Local

Arrests made in aftermath of overcrowding at Galleria during NBA All-Star weekend in Houston

Monday, February 18, 2013
Massive crowds at the Galleria on Saturday prompted officials to close down the mall early as a precaution.

It was a busy weekend for the Bayou City with big celebrities and even bigger crowds for the 2012 NBA All-Star weekend. So big, in fact, that the Galleria had to be shut down Saturday night because of overcrowding. We brought you the story as breaking news over the weekend.

At least one Galleria employee says she's never seen anything like it and on Monday we learned there were arrests.

For the Galleria, NBA All-Star weekend climaxed Saturday night when the mall called in police to shut the mall down an hour early.

"They went to every boutique and told them there was too much overcrowding and so they were going to close down all the stores," said Kristina Rivera, who works at Bare Minerals at the mall.

She shot cell phone video of the incident and says by noon Saturday the crowd was already becoming unmanageable.

Advertising by the Galleria via Twitter might have worked too well. The mall's Twitter page sent out several messages making NBA fans aware that they were holding events and that admission at the Galleria was free. Employees say the crowds were mostly there to stargaze, not to shop.

"It started getting really crazy, tons of people were in, and not really anybody was shopping, they weren't carrying around bags," said Rivera.

By 6pm some stores began voluntarily closing their doors. A couple of hours later, Houston police's Strategic Response Group was called out to intervene. Officers dispersed crowds and officially shut down the mall just after 8pm, well before it's typical 9pm closing.

"At one point the cops kind of cut off some of the stairwells and they were standing guard and you couldn't go through the stairwells because so many people were overcrowding them," Rivera said.

Galleria General Manager Greg Noble declined an on-camera interview, but released a statement which read in part, "The Galleria, in conjunction with the Houston Police Department (HPD) and the Houston Fire Department, has monitored mall traffic and crowds in town for the All Star Game. As of 8:15 p.m. today, The Galleria reached legal capacity and officially closed."

Rivera told us, "I've been a make-up artist there for about four years and never have I seen anything like it."

On Monday, Houston police confirmed that two people were arrested in the Galleria parking lot for fighting on Saturday night.
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nba, local, erik barajas
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