A flurry of reports of mall melees and disturbances rippled across social media Monday on a day Americans swarmed shopping hubs for post-holiday bargains.
Disturbances that led to some malls being evacuated included reports from Elizabeth, N.J.; Fayetteville, N.C.; East Garden City, N.Y.; Aurora, Colo.; Tempe, Ariz.; Beachwood Place, a suburb of Cleveland; and Memphis.
About 10 people were injured during a melee at the Jersey Gardens mall in Elizabeth on Sunday evening, Mayor Chris Bollwage said in a tweet.
The injuries were non-life-threatening, Bollwage said. A fight in the food court led to false reports of a shooting after a chair was thrown and hit the ground loudly, officials said.
Posts on social media showed police with guns responding to the food court. Police evacuated the building as a precaution, and hours later there were still long lines waiting for NJ Transit buses as it began to rain.
Malls reel in families with full-blown Santa 'experiences'
Sergio Cleto, a tourist from Brazil, was waiting for a bus back to Manhattan. "We saw the kids fighting ... then everyone began to run and everything is a mess after that," Cleto said.
In Tennessee, Memphis police arrested seven people and had an eighth in custody Monday evening following melees at two malls that sent crowds scurrying and shut down Oak Court Mall early.
The two incidents were similar to others across the country, but Memphis police couldn't confirm any sort of coordinated effort just a lot of social media chatter.
No one was injured in the local disturbances at Oak Court and Wolfchase Galleria and, despite reports to the contrary, no gunshots were fired. The disturbances did, however, cause Oak Court operators to shut down the East Memphis mall hours early Monday evening and, according to some reports on social media, left Wolfchase patrons detained inside stores for a time.
MPD Deputy Chief Terry Landrum said outside Oak Court that the situation started at Wolfchase about 6:30 p.m.
"Somebody yelled 'gun!' and youths stampeded through the mall," Landrum said. "Pretty much the same thing happened here (at Oak Court).
"A kiosk was knocked over, there was some other damage, but there were no shots fired. We had officers in both malls."
Landrum said six were arrested at Wolfchase and another person was in custody. One person was arrested at Oak Court after she bumped an officer with a car. Identities of those arrested were not available, and Landrum didn't know if they were all juveniles.
Asked if the incidents were connected, possibly with other incidents across the nation, Landrum wasn't sure, but said there was a lot of talk on social media. He said he heard rumors of incidents at other locations in Memphis Monday evening but wasn't aware of any other confirmed activity.
In North Carolina, Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville was evacuated after a brawl sent shoppers fleeing, WRAL-TV in Raleigh reported. Authorities said a confrontation broke out between teens in the mall food court at about 4:40 p.m. and quickly escalated, the station said. Fayetteville Police tweeted that there were unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, and the mall, not police, made the decision to evacuate. There were no shooting victims or property damage, according to police.
Ref Cross Creek Mall. Reported shots fired. Unconfirmed. No shooting victims or property damage. Mall made the decision to evacuate, not PD— Fayetteville Police (@FayettevillePD) December 26, 2016
False reports of a shooting sent shoppers fleeing at Roosevelt Field, an upscale shopping mall in East Garden City, N.Y., News 12 Long Island reported. A fight broke out in the food court and panicked shoppers mistakenly thought shots had been fired, the station reported. It said police converged on the mall and gave an all-clear. Seven people were hospitalized with minor injuries, the station reported.
In Cleveland, police officers were called to Beachwood Place just after 6:30 p.m. after a fight that led to a mall lockdown, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported, and officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. One man and one police officer received medical treatment after being exposed to the pepper spray, the paper said.
Police there said the incident appeared to have been “loosely organized on social media.”
In Aurora, Colo., "multiple skirmishes" on Monday afternoon at Town Center Aurora led to evacuations, KUSA-TV, Denver, reported. Police said no customers or officers were injured.
500+ @TCAurora Mall lastnite 2 fite & disturb.Customers/ employees afraid.Ofcs outnumbered,called in other PDs.Ofcs served Aurora very well!— Chief Nick Metz (@APDChiefMetz) December 27, 2016
No one was seriously injured but five juveniles were arrested during the disturbance at the Town Center at Aurora, police spokesman Sgt. Chris Amsler told the Associated Press.
Officers in Tempe, Ariz., said they found no evidence of a shooting at Arizona Mills Mall after receiving a call reporting possible shots fired, KPNX-TV in Phoenix reported. There were two fights in the food court of the mall and no stores were put on lockdown, according to the station.
In Indiana, several minors were detained after police were called to break up fights at Castleton Square Mall. There were hundreds of young people at the mall with 10 to 12 fighting, IMPD Commander Christopher Bailey said.
"They had multiple fights and a couple different resisters and they were all tied up and there were several hundred kids inside the mall running around and there were a couple other skirmishes inside the mall, so they needed assistance so on-duty officers responded and helped and within a matter of minutes, everything was under control back at the mall," Bailey told Fox59.
Bailey said it wasn't clear what led to the fights but believed those involved may have had some type of feud.
The day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day, a shopping fest akin to Black Friday in some countries such as the United Kingdom.
Contributing: Ron Maxey, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal, and Patricia Alex, The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record. Follow Susan Miller on Twitter: @susmiller