Police from multiple agencies converged on the Mall of Louisiana Saturday after several fights broke out inside the mall. The mall was evacuated and several arrests were made.
EBRSO spokesperson Casey Rayborn-Hicks says deputies were first called to the mall around 6pm. Deputies say several small fights occurred in various parts of the mall with the largest fight occurring in the food court area.
While there were an estimated 200 juveniles in the area at the time, it was unclear how many people took part in the altercations. As of 9pm, deputies said they expected to charge up to ten people in connection with the fights.
Baton Rouge Police and the Louisiana State Police also responded. Deputies say the juveniles quickly dispersed to other areas inside and outside the mall. Workers at most stores in the mall pulled down security gates to prevent people from entering their stores.
A spokesman for EMS says ambulances responded to the scene but, as of 7:40pm, no ambulances were needed to treat anyone on the scene.
Juveniles who were in the mall with a parent were taken to BJ's and Bravo restaurants so they could be picked up by their parents, Rayborn-Hicks said.
A woman who asked not to be identified says she was in the food court with her one-year-old son when the large fight broke out. "People were jumping over my tables and other tables and knocked over my baby stroller," she said. "I grabbed my son and took off running but all the doors to the stores were closed. I ran through a side door into the parking lot and ran around trying to find my car," she said.
The Mall of Louisiana was closed for the night and traffic contraflow was put in place near mall entrances to clear the area.
Rayborn-Hicks said initial reports of shots being fired were inaccurate.
Witnesses describe chaos as shoppers ducked under make-up counters and hid in stores as the commotion unfolded.
Deputies were told that there was reportedly a post on social media about a flash mob at the mall allegedly drawing a crowd to the area, Rayborn-Hicks added.
EBRSO spokesperson Casey Rayborn-Hicks says she's not sure how many people were involved in the actual fight but up to ten people will face criminal charges.
The incident remains under investigation.
The mall is expected to be open for regular hours Sunday, January 6th.