JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In a crowd of some 600 people at the River City Marketplace, a melee breaks out.
It started around 8:30pm Wednesday when a group of juveniles tried to rush into the Hollywood Theater at the Northside shopping complex without paying.
"Unsupervised, unticketed young people,” said Laurie-Ellen Smith with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Smith says an officer working off-duty tried to break up the fight by using pepper spray, and a melee erupted. At the same time, people started fighting outside the theater, and the group in the parking lot grew to approximately 600 people.
"A lot of the children unfortunately were not accompanied by an adult," said Conita Reed, who was at the theater with her kids when the fights started. "There was a lot of movement. Again, you could not enjoy the movie because children were everywhere."
Reed tells WOKV the Hollywood 14 Cinemas couldn't contain everyone.
"I was told by one of the employees of the theater that there were fights and that all of the children literally had to be escorted out of the lobby area into the front of the movie theater," said Reed.
We're told more than 60 JSO officers responded, working more than 90 minutes to separate the people and reuniting them with their parents.
"There were people fighting and there were people who were not fighting. The officers were there to keep everyone safe, and sequester, and to separate", said Smith.
We're told there were no serious injuries and no reports of gunshots. Some cars were damaged because of people jumping on them.
By the time police got things under control, five people were arrested in total. 19-year-old Tevyn Davis was arrested on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. 18-year-old Jaquade Miller and 17-year-old Khalil Bradley were arrested on felony charges of resisting an officer with violence. Two others, a boy and a girl, were also arrested but because they are minors and were not charged with felonies their names are not being released.
WOKV spoke with the company who manages the River City Marketplace to find out if they will be making any changes to security procedures in the wake of the melee. Ramco-Gershenson Corporate Communications Director Dawn Hendershot tells us there will be more security on site for the next few days in order to give shoppers a sense of security. They do not, however, think there is any ongoing threat.
“The Center’s been open for nearly ten years, and we have never had any security concerns,” she says.
She says while this security boost will be temporary, they are expecting a new JSO substation to be built in the plaza soon. Planning for the substation has no connection to the Wednesday night brawl, but she says it will give police even more resources to work with in the future.