A suburban Louisville mall reopened Sunday with extra security, a day after closing early when throngs of unruly teens caused disturbances.
The night before, up to 2,000 teens created mayhem at Mall St. Matthews as the shopping center was filled with post-Christmas shoppers, police said.
Officers from four agencies responded to numerous reports of fights, harassment of customers and store employees, and other disturbances at the shopping center, said officer Dennis McDonald, a spokesman for suburban St. Matthews police.
When the mall closed early at about 8 p.m. Saturday, teens tried to prevent some businesses from shutting their doors, he said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
No arrests were made, but “it wasn’t for the lack of criminal activity,” McDonald said Sunday.
“We were largely outnumbered, and our focus was on restoring order and dispersing the crowd,” he said. “And we were focused on the safety of patrons and of our fellow officers. Certainly, if they were assaulting innocent people, police would have made arrests.”
Police received reports of gunshots fired but could not confirm whether that actually happened, McDonald said.
Minor injuries were reported from people being pushed down or shoved, he said.
The popular mall reopened Sunday with added police presence, he said. There were no reports of problems by early afternoon, he said.
At the height of the problems Saturday night, about 50 police officers responded to disturbances, McDonald said.
St. Matthews police and mall security were assisted by Jeffersontown and Louisville Metro police and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.
The disturbances were caused mostly by unsupervised young people ranging from their early to late teens, McDonald said. Many of them apparently were dropped off or took public transportation to the mall, he said.
“We started heading toward the exit and we saw larger numbers of teenagers, and they started kind of running and congregating in one area, and then all the police, all the security started running in that direction and then we decided it’s time to head the other direction,” witness Chuck Hibbs told WLKY-TV.
The mayhem spilled into the mall parking lot and prompted some other nearby businesses and restaurants to close early, McDonald said.
It appeared teens used social media as the disturbances continued, he said.
“We think they were communicating using social media,” he said. “They would disperse and then all of a sudden there would be another group congregating at another location.”
There were no immediate signs that the incident was coordinated, but it was police were looking into that as part of the investigation, he said.
In Lexington, police Lt. Joe Anderson said Sunday that officers continued to patrol the area around the Fayette Mall because of the additional holiday traffic. He said he wasn’t aware of any reports that were out of the ordinary or plans to modify patrols.
Staff writer Michael McKay contributed to this article.