In a strange turn of events, unexplained chain reaction brawls involving up to 2,000 people erupted at one of Kentucky’s
largest malls this past Saturday night, forcing the entire mall and businesses in the surrounding area to shut down.
The hours-long chaos at Mall St. Matthews began about 7 p.m. ET when the six St. Matthews police officers assigned to the mall for the holiday season began responding to “disturbances,” said Officer Dennis McDonald, a police spokesman told NBC.
“As they were responding to those disturbances, others were breaking out. … Disturbances started to feed on themselves.” McDonald said. “They were just overwhelmed with a number of calls for service and reports of disorder.”
The officers on duty at the mall called for backup, and 50 officers from five different agencies responded, according to police.
“It was a series of brawls” involving 1,000 to 2,000 people ages 13 to their early 20s, McDonald continued, adding that “the entire mall” was affected.
About 8 p.m., authorities started to advise stores in the mall to close their doors, but those involved in the brawls were refusing to leave. “Businesses were in the process of closing their doors, steel grates, and you had juveniles that were not allowing businesses to close up — [they were] climbing on the grates,” McDonald said.
“It took about an hour and a half, close to two hours, before things were calm,” McDonald added. Officers “maintained a presence” until 1 a.m., McDonald said, adding: “We’re all tired.”
The most baffling part of the story, aside from no one being sure what or who started the riots- is that no one was arrested.
According to the mall’s security office, Mall St Matthews returned to normal business hours and reopened at 11 a.m. Sunday.
St. Matthews, a suburb of about 18,000 people outside of Louisville, is a normally quiet city that sees no more than two murders a year, McDonald said. “I’ve been a police officer 33 years, and I haven’t ever seen anything like this before,” he said. “We always plan for worst-case scenario, but this exceeded that.”