Hulen Mall in Fort Worth went on lockdown Monday evening after large-scale fights broke out involving as many as 150 teenagers. [[408356645,R]]
Police confirmed on Tuesday that the brawl appears to have been coordinated online through social media. Investigators are trying to determine if it involved other large-scale fights at malls across the country Monday night.
Similar incidents happened from Colorado to Connecticut and in between, including in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where video showed people running to get out of a mall there.
In Fort Worth and several other cities, the incidents included unconfirmed reports of shots fired.
Extra security patrolled outside Hulen Mall on Tuesday, where many shoppers had heard about Monday night's brawl but weren't deterred from their post-Christmas errands.
"I think social media probably heightened it, made it worse, but I think this kind of stuff has always happened at malls," said shopper Jonathan Cologne.
Cell phone video captured the chaos when several fights broke out at once around 6:00 p.m. Monday, forcing Hulen Mall security to put the entire shopping center on lockdown.
"They kept everyone where they were,” said Fort Worth Police Officer Tamara Valle. “They closed the gates to the stores to make sure everyone was safe."
It started with a report of shots fired in the parking lot, but so far police have found no evidence of a shooting.
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As many as 150 teenagers were involved in the subsequent fighting in the food court and other parts of the mall. Police say about 60 of their units responded and were able to break it up.
"They called everyone's parent or guardian and had everyone come and pick up their child," Officer Valle said.
Police say two of the teens got citations because they wouldn't leave the property when officers told them to. But there were no arrests and no serious injuries.
"One of the officers in the report did mention that students told him it was social media-driven and it was coordinated over social media,” said Officer Valle. “Now whether or not that means it was just here in the city of Fort Worth or they were part of the national hashtag, I'm unclear of that. I do know that it was social media-driven."
Fort Worth police are also running through Hulen Mall surveillance video to check for any sign of the shooting that was originally reported.