TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) -- Witnesses described the tense moments at Towson Town Center after fights broke out among young people just after 7 p.m. Saturday.
Two officers suffered minor injuries after being sprayed with pepper spray. A member of the mall security team was also injured.
Among those in the mall at the time, one wrote on Facebook, "We came out to a stampede that tried to run us over going up the escalator, vandalism, police everywhere. Stores closing their mall entrances so people were having a hard time exiting to get to their cars. Just crazy."
Another said, "It was such as shame to see children running through the mall screaming, destroying stores, running from the police and mall security having to be locked in or out of stores for our safety."
Pictures posted online showed large planters broken on the ground from the melee.
Sonja Crosby lives nearby, and told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren she is worried about the impact on her community.
"It puts us in a negative light. There was a shooting, and now there's a disturbance in the mall. It just makes you wonder what's next in Towson. I find it to be very upsetting," Crosby said. "The first thing I thought was, 'Isn't there a curfew? Aren't the parents supposed to be monitoring their children.' There's typically a heavy police presence there so it did surprise me a little that it had gotten to that point, but nowadays it's as if nothing surprises me anymore, unfortunately."
She also is concerned about the impact on businesses. "Louis Vuitton is gone, Tiffany's, Crate and Barrel…You wonder what's next for the mall. Is it going to drive out other retailers? Absolutely that worries me," Crosby said.
The mall has seen fights and violence in the past, and it does have a curfew after 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The information is posted on their website. Those 17 and younger must be with a guardian older than 21 at all times.
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks has seen the videos and received regular updates from police. "Look, everyone has the right to expect a safe environment when they come into downtown Towson, and we should be outraged by any assaults on police officers and anything that disturbs the peace of mind. But I will say that downtown Towson is generally very safe," Marks told Hellgren. "There really hasn't been incidents like this. This incident is an aberration. We should be outraged. We should try to learn from this experience, but people should not be dissuaded from coming into downtown Towson to shop and eat."
He also pointed to the Chamber of Commerce trying to get a grant for more cameras in the area but said "the number one thing we can do is to physically increase the police presence in the core of downtown Towson. …And I'm confident the police department is looking at perhaps redeploying their resources."
Police did arrest six juveniles with charges ranging from assault to disorderly conduct. Those involved were between the ages of 12 and 17.
"It's something that we as elected officials have to take very seriously," Marks said.
Another longtime Towson resident who asked WJZ not to use his name, called it "a major issue created by a minor, small number of people" and said he still feels safe shopping in the area.
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