Social media message ignites crowd 'brawl at the mall'

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POSTED: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 6:45pm

UPDATED: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 6:49pm

The sheriff's office said half a dozen kids have been charged in Saturday’s fight. The kids range in age from 13 to 15 years old. The charges include remaining after forbidden, disturbance by fistic encounter, and resisting an officer. There's no word tonight if more charges are expected.

It all started with this picture posted on “Instagram” by a local teen.

"There was no criminal intent there it was simply to have group of people meet up at the mall for the purpose of maybe taking a group picture," Casey Hicks, EBRSO, said.

But what was only supposed to be a meet and greet turned into a "brawl at the mall" causing chaos and confusion.

"Something like this a benign post about meeting up at the mall wouldn't send up any red flags, we have no way of knowing that 200 kids are actually going to respond to this," says Hicks.

The Sheriff’s Office works with federal, state and local agencies to monitor the Internet and social media, but with events such as this, they say it's up to the parents.

"Have that conversation have that dialogue with your child that way as a parent you can know if you're bringing them into a potentially dangerous situation," noted Hicks.

That night rumors spread like wildfire through social media - with word of guns and shots fired something officials do not encourage.

"So we really want to caution people, don't spread misinformation don't spread rumors it burst the situation and it hurts the community and it hurts the investigation."

Luckily no one was hurt during this "brawl at the mall," but that might not always be the case.

"Be part of the solution and not the problem speak up."

Late this afternoon the mall of Louisiana released a statement on Saturday’s fights: "At Mall of Louisiana, the safety and security of our shoppers are always our top priorities... This Saturday, there was an unexpected large amount of people gathered in the food court due to a social media posting. Based simply upon the size of the crowd, the sheriff's department determined it was necessary to evacuate the mall to further ensure the safety of all shoppers... As part of our efforts and our commitment to public safety, we regularly review our safety program and will amend it as necessary."

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