JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fights have broken out at malls around the country, sending post-holiday shoppers scrambling for the exits.
No one was seriously injured in the mall melees Monday night, which during the panic also prompted numerous false reports of gunfire.
There were no reported fights in Jacksonville, but a similar incident happened two years ago at the River City Marketplace.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said shoppers caught in the middle of a fight should get out fast.
“The best thing to do is to move away from that area,” Smith said. “It sounds simple, but sometimes people freeze up or just stare or just don’t do anything. Get away from wherever the violence is.”
Police in Ohio told Cleveland.com that officers used pepper spray to disperse a large crowd following a fight at an upscale shopping mall in Beachwood, just outside of Cleveland.
Police said the incident there appears to have been "loosely organized on social media."
Smith said it's important for parents to talk to their children to know where they are going and why.
“If you have honest communication with your teenage kids, have them tell you what they know, what's going on, and if you do know of a fight that may be starting at a mall or any type of social media fighting, to notify law enforcement,” Smith said. “It's very important to get the resources over there to stop it from happening.”
There were similar disturbances at malls around the country including in New York, Texas and Colorado.
In Memphis, Tennessee, police arrested several people following fights at two malls there.
There's no official word on whether any of the fights were connected, but it appears no weapons were involved.
Jacksonville shoppers said Tuesday that the news of the fights was disappointing but wouldn't deter them from cashing in on end-of-year deals.
Some said they would definitely be paying attention to their surroundings, though.
“Just be alert. Everything. Every day. Life,” Nick Mohabat said. “(Watch) your six.”