Five people are in police custody after hundreds of black rioters went on a rampage in a shopping mall parking lot on Christmas night.
According to police, several “young folks” tried to force their way into the Hollywood River City 14 movie theater in Jacksonville, Fla.
They rushed an off-duty police officer working as a security guard while trying to gain entry without buying tickets.
The officer “administered pepper spray to disperse the group, locked the doors and called for backup, following protocol,” said Lauri-Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Then “what can only be described as a melee” involving juveniles and young adults erupted in the parking lot, said Smith.
“If you can imagine a group of upwards of 600 people moving throughout a parking lot that measures about the size of a football field. Fighting, disrupting, jumping on cars,” she added.
Police using “crowd-control tactics” spent approximately 90 minutes clearing the parking lot and and breaking up fights.
Witness Alecia Williams said she was on her way to the movies with a friend when police turned her around. Williams said she saw dozens of people involved in some kind of disturbance.
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“I saw a whole bunch of people fighting,” Williams told the Florida Times-Union. “I got out of there as fast as I could. I got really scared.”
Shaderrick Lay told the newspaper she saw more than 50 people fighting in the parking lot and that she feared for her life as she left the property of the large shopping mall.
“It was just crazy,” Lay said.
All five of the people arrested on the scene were charged with crimes related to fighting. Three of those arrested, including one minor, were charged with felonies. Two other juveniles, who have not been named by police, were charged with misdemeanors.
Tevyn Alonza Davis, 19, was charged with resisting arrest and breach of the peace. Jaquade Marquis Miller, 18, was charged with fighting and resisting arrest. Khalil Ahmad Bradley, 17, the only minor charged with a felony, was arrested for resisting arrest, refusal to disperse and breach of the peace.
Davis and Bradley each “took a fighting stance” when confronted by police and told to leave the area, according to arrest reports. Miller, too, “took an aggressive stance” when told by police to leave the parking lot.
One of the rioters refused orders to leave and began to incite the crowd by yelling, “F— you, crackers, I ain’t going nowhere,” according to her arrest report.
Sixty-two police officers were called to the scene to break up the brawl, “sequestering them and separating them,” Smith said. A safe zone was also established for parents and families to reunite with their children.
Only minor injuries and damage to property were reported. No gunshots were fired, according to Smith.