16 charged in violent Center City flash mob
CENTER CITY - March 4, 2010 (WPVI) -- The Philadelphia District Attorney's office announced Thursday that 16 people will be charged with felony rioting after a violent flash mob incident in Center City on Wednesday.
Those charged include 13 juveniles and three adults.
The DA says one of the juveniles has also been charged with assault on police for elbowing an officer in the face.
Other charges include disorderly conduct and harassment.
22 people were initially taken into custody on Wednesday.
Police say, at around 4:30 p.m., a mob of about 50 to 100 people suddenly converged in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street when a fistfight broke out, and then the crowd began running towards 11th and Market and the Gallery.
Witness Warren Bloom happened to be passing by.
"It was pretty chaotic because a lot of the business owners and people in the street were being suggested to get out of the way," Bloom said.
Police say the group was on a rampage, dodging in and out of traffic and causing all sorts of havoc. Fortunately, city and SEPTA transit police have had a beefed up presence in the area since last month's flash mob incident and were able to move in quickly before the teens could move into the Gallery where they were believed to be headed.
"They never entered the Gallery, they never got that far, they didn't enter any other structures," Lt. Frank Vanore of the Philadelphia Police said.
Within minutes, police made almost two dozen arrests of teenagers involved in the melee.
Last month, about 150 teens from 8 area high schools converged at the Gallery and started a rampage in which a 14-year-old was injured. Police say they also ransacked the Macy's store across from City Hall.
Back in May, police say more than 100 young people converged on South Street and attacked and damaged several taxis, as well as ransacked a convenience store causing hundreds of dollars in damage. An elderly bicyclist was also severely beaten in the incident leading to the arrest of 21-year-old Stephen Lyde.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says they will take a zero tolerance posture with the teens involved and also sent a strong message to their parents.
"This is a breakdown of parents doing what they need to do. You got kids that think they can get away with whatever. They need to be responsible for their own behavior and if you got a kid that's out of control, and you don't do anything to control them at all, as far as I'm concerned, you ought to be charged with something too," Ramsey said.
Additionally, Ramsey says beginning next week, the department will permanently assign more police officers to Center City in the wake of these incidents.
philadelphia, pennsylvania, local/state
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