Philadelphia police have strengthened their presence at the Philadelphia Mills Mall in response to two straight days of mass disturbances there planned on social media. On Tuesday night, police arrested four teenagers at the mall who clashed with officers.
Around 2 p.m., a city bus dropped off more than 300 juveniles at the mall located on Franklin Mills Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia, according to police.
Mall security prevented most of the hundreds of teens from entering. They instead milled about for a few hours before around 90 of them entered the shopping center in small separate packs.
Once inside, police say around 30 of them were creating chaos in the food court, yelling at officers, and at least one person in the group punched a Philadelphia Police officer in the head, according to an incident report of the disturbance. The report also described several expletive-laced rants teenagers allegedly yelled at the officers.
Meanwhile, hundreds of others outside the mall kicked cars and menaced mall patrons, according to police. No injuries were reported. The mall was briefly on lockdown.
It was the second straight night teens caused disturbances at the shopping center. Authorities believe the incidents were planned on the mobile app Snapchat.
The arrested juveniles, whose names have not been disclosed, were 14, 17, 13 and 15 years old, authorities say. Some were charged with aggravated assault, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct, among other charges.
In response to the episode, management at the Philadelphia Mills Mall have instructed security officers to not allow any customers under the age of 18 to enter the shopping center without an adult.
It comes just as authorities in more than a dozen other cities reported similar chaotic gatherings at malls, all thought to be organized on social media. It’s unclear if the various disturbances were connected.
Some officials suspect that, with nothing else to do during holiday break, the teenagers orchestrated the so-called flash mobs out of boredom.