More officers to patrol Raleigh mall
Posted July 29, 2008 3:10 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2008 9:26 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh police will increase their presence at a local mall where hundreds of people were involved in a weekend melee, officials said Tuesday.
A brawl began Saturday evening inside Triangle Town Center and involved as many as 300 people, police said. A 15-year-old was stabbed, and a police officer injured his leg in the incident, but neither injury was considered serious.
Police have called the incident gang-related, saying officers saw gang signs being flashed by individuals involved in the initial fights that sparked the melee.
Seven people were charged with inciting a riot and other offenses in the incident, which forced an evacuation of the mall and had stores closing early.
Mall spokeswoman Jennifer Jones said Tuesday that the mall is working closely with the Raleigh Police Department to improve security. Extra police will begin patrolling the mall this weekend until the mall managers can put other measures in place, she said, declining to provide details about the mall's long-term security plans.
Raleigh's other major mall, Crabtree Valley Mall, has been on high alert since the melee, officials there said.
Crabtree Valley has its own police force with arrest powers, but officials said they were reviewing their security measures to see if any upgrades are needed.
"We've never had an incident of that type here," said Officer Thomas Verrault, who has patrolled the mall for two years.
Crabtree Valley doesn't have a curfew for teens, but it does enforce a conduct policy that prohibits loitering and disorderly conduct. Verrault said the policy is one reason Crabtree Valley hasn't had issues with violence.
The mall also uses high-resolution cameras to scan the crowds of shoppers for potential trouble, he said.
"We've got the area under 24-hour video surveillance, which is constantly being recorded," he said. "The biggest challenge is just the sheer volume of people we have passing in and out of our jurisdiction on a daily basis."
Shoppers said they appreciate the security, but some had a sense of unease after the weekend melee at the other mall.
"When you see something like that happen, you say, 'It could happen here,'" shopper Earl Mills said.