Mall Brawl Possibly Sparked by Mistaken Identity
BURLINGTON TWP., N.J. - January 16, 2007 (WPVI) -- Police in Burlington Township, New Jersey are still trying to determine what sparked a Saturday night fight inside a popular shopping mall.
Seven people were arrested in what may have been a violent clash of rival gang members.
"There were upwards of 100 people running towards the scene," said Ptl. Richard Sullivan of the Burlington Township Police.
It was mayhem when he arrived at the Burlington Center Mall on Route 541 on Saturday night after the fight broke out.
"We originally got the call as shots fired. What we believe it may have been was when a kid -- he got jumped and slammed up against a store front glass and that shattered. The noise may have sounded like gunfire," said Sullivan.
The melee began when a member of a group called the "Next Level Gang"--considered a stepping-stone into the Crips -- confronted another teen wearing a red t-shirt, the color of the Bloods gang.
"He was mistaken for a possible gang member from a rival gang," said Lt. Richard Sweeney.
The fight caused the mall to shut down 15 minutes earlier than its regular 9:30 closing time. Police say the brawl was an unusual incident for the mall, which they consider quiet and problem-free.
"Burlington Center Mall is probably the safest mall in the region," said manager Chris Speca.
He says security officers constantly patrol inside and out and that while teens hang out here regularly, this is the first time in years there's been any trouble.
"We welcome them in our mall, but we expect kids who visit us to be well behaved," said Speca.
So far police have arrested one adult and six juveniles involved in the brawl. They say as the investigation continues more arrests could be coming.
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