ORANGE PARK, Fla. - A video of a huge fight Saturday inside the Orange Park Mall is going viral.
Deputies were called to the mall at 6:15 p.m. Saturday after the brawl broke out. The scene was chaotic as the 30 or so combatants, who appeared to be mostly teenage girls, brawled. The fight continued for several minutes before the participants dispersed.
The fight resulted in five arrests, including one adult. Authorities said the charges range from resisting arrest to battery on law enforcement and trespassing after warning.
There were no injuries reported in the fight, which was reported on the Sears end of the mall closest to Blanding Boulevard. Stores near there, including rue21 and Maurice's, declined to comment on the fight.
John Westbrook, the general manager at the Orange Park Mall, issued a statement about the incident:
The safety of our shoppers, retailers and employees is our top priority. We are working closely with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office as they investigate this incident.
Shopper Monique Thouin, 19, said Monday that it’s sad that teenagers who are likely not much younger than she is were involved in the brawl.
Thouin said it’s not fair to people like her, who go to the mall several times a month.
“Everyone’s safety then is in jeopardy because you never know who's carrying what, whose mindset is where, so you have to think about other people’s safety before you think about what you want to fight about,” Thouin said. “You can never control what people are going to do. You have to let them learn on their own and make their own mistakes, so they can see later on that's not what you want to do.”
Thouin said she’ll still go to the mall but not alone.
“Definitely have an adult with me. Take my dad or my mom with me,” Thouin said. “I'm very self-conscious about my surroundings. Make sure I'm watching and looking out for what might be kind of weird.”
Other shoppers at the mall who saw the video this weekend said they were shocked and outraged that such an incident could happen locally.
“That’s not right. It’s the way they’re growing up,” Lamont Wilson said. “It’s what they see.”
“That’s the way things are,” an unnamed shopper said. “People aren’t comfortable anymore. Don’t have any family life. That’s why I don’t go there.”
Retired Jacksonville sheriff’s officer and News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said, sadly, this type of fight is a trend that has been happening across the country, often in malls.
Smith said such fights are often organized beforehand through social media and involve teenagers who ordinarily aren’t in trouble.
Shoppers, store owners and employees are advised to never get involved because the crowds are so big that they can be overwhelming. Smith said to let the police handle the situation.
“It’s best to not intervene or to break it up because not only are the people you’re trying to stop fighting, but the people around them may turn on you also because they don’t want it to end, and you could have a large number of kids attacking just the one or two people trying to break it up,” Smith said.
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