The day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day in many countries around the world, a shopping fest akin to Black Friday.
But as Americans swarmed shopping centers across the country for post-Christmas sales, gift returns and exchanges, some appeared to have taken the holiday's name literally.
Several malls nationwide reported melees and disturbances, many involving teenagers, and dozens were arrested. In some instances, people reported hearing gunshots, though police recovered no firearms and mall officials noted that sounds in busy malls can be misconstrued as gunshots.
There was no evidence of the incidents being connected.
Police in a Aurora, Colorado, near Denver, locked down and then evacuated a mall due to multiple skirmishes. Aurora police posted on Twitter that no injuries were reported at the Town Center on Monday after characterizing the incident as a "large disturbance."
Aurora police spokesman Sgt. Chris Amsler said that as a suspect was being taking into custody, a crowd, which mushroomed in size to about 500 people, advanced on an officer and fights broke out. Five juveniles were arrested. No one was hurt.
There were also arrests in Indianapolis, where WTHR reported that at least two fights broke out, and in Syracuse, where WSTM-TV reported that police waded into a large brawl and took three teenagers into custody on charges that include disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Connecticut and local police descended on The Shoppes at Buckland Hills mall in Manchester Monday night after a melee broke out involving hundreds of teens, NBC Connecticut reported. Manchester police said a disturbance involving approximately 10 teenagers was reported and an officer was assaulted while attempting to break up the fight. It was estimated that there were several hundred teenagers inside the mall and several other fights broke out around the same time, police said.
Police in Ohio say officers used pepper spray to disperse a large crowd following a fight at an upscale mall. Officers initially responded to the Beachwood Place mall in Beachwood for a report of shots fired, prompting a lockdown at the shopping center. It was later confirmed that there were no gunshots.
A juvenile was taken into custody for assaulting a police officer, police said. It was not immediately clear what led to the fight. A man and a police officer were exposed to the pepper spray and received medical treatment, according to Cleveland.com.
In North Carolina, a brawl in the Cross Creek Mall food court sent a crowd of after-Christmas shoppers fleeing. Fayetteville police said officers responded to reports of shots being fired. Police believe a confrontation between teens escalated and sparked a panic.
“Once people start running in that area or chairs are getting knocked over, tables, that sort of thing, that echoes and it could resemble the sound of a gunshot to a lot of people,” Fayetteville Police Department spokesman Shawn Strepay said, according to WRAL-TV.
Fayetteville police says no arrests have been made, but officials are reviewing mall security video to see if charges are warranted.
A large fight inside the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Illinois, drew a significant police presence and shut down business temporarily. Video posted on social media from the scene shows frantic shoppers running down escalators and police attempting to break up a large crowd. It was not immediately clear what sparked the disturbance.
Texas police were investigating an incident at Hulen Mall in Fort Worth that cause the mall to be placed on lockdown Monday night. A fight broke out in the food court and as officers tried to break it up, several other skirmishes broke out in other areas of the mall, NBC 5 DFW reported. In all, as many as 150 teenagers were involved, Fort Worth police spokeswoman Tamara Valle said.
Panic broke out at the Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth, New Jersey, after someone yelled "gun," according to NBC 4 New York. Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said there was no shooting and that someone slamming a chair loudly during a fight sparked the cries of a “gun.” Police said those loud sounds resulted in “pandemonium” at the mall as shoppers took cover or fled for the exits.
There was also a scare at Long Island, New York, mall Monday evening. A fight broke out in the food court and panicked shoppers mistakenly thought shots had been fired. Nassau police said that no shots were fired at the mall. However, several people were injured in the resulting stampede.