FOX 32 / SUN-TIMES - Eight teenagers are facing misdemeanor charges after a fight broke out at the Fox Valley Mall on Monday evening in west suburban Aurora, temporarily shutting down the shopping center.
And police are investigating whether the brawl was connected to a series of similar events across the country on Monday, possibly spurred by social media.
Mall security saw a large group of teenagers gathering in the food court in the mall at Commons Drive and New York Street about 6:30 p.m. and called police.
Several officers and a sergeant responded, and told the teens to disperse, according to Aurora police. The teens disregarded the directive and a large fight broke out, followed by several smaller altercations.
While trying to break up the fight, the sergeant and a mall security officer were battered, police said. The disturbance escalated as the crowd refused to obey police and security personnel orders, and some of the teens threw drinks and other items.
The mall was evacuated and closed for about an hour while about 75 officers brought the situation under control, police said. No one was injured.
“Aurora Police continue to investigate what role social media may have played in organizing the disturbance and what connection the disturbance may have to other similar incidents that were reported in several cities across the nation,” according to the statement.
"Looking at the totality of the circumstances with such similar incidents across the country, we're strongly looking at and contacting those other agencies to find out what similarities there were between ours and theirs,” said Aurora Police Commander Mike Doerzaph.
FOX 32: "It felt like something was going on."
"It certainly feels like it was social media driven,” Doerzaph added.
A 17-year-old girl has been charged with battery and resisting police; and a 15-year-old girl was charged with resisting police and disorderly conduct, a statement from police said. Charged with battery were a 13-year-old girl, 15-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy; while two 14-year-old boys and a 16-year-old girl were with obstructing police, according to police.
All of the charges are misdemeanors, though they could be enhanced to felonies.
Police said they are working closely with mall security to assure safety, including extra patrols, in the immediate future.
On Tuesday night, Aurora police deployed extra officers both inside and outside the mall.
Most shoppers that FOX 32 talked to didn't seem concerned.
"No, not really. I think it's just people being foolish. That's really about it. Trying to get attention for whatever reason,” said shopper Scott Lueck.
"It's just a little sad to see that happening at this time of the year in general, period,” another shopper said.
Police say those additional officers will be posted at the mall at least until the end of the week, covering the time the teens are out of school.
The motive behind the disturbance is not yet known. Anyone with information should call police at (630) 256-5500 or crime stoppers at (630) 892-1000.