While warmer weather has been a cue for generations of teens to gather and hang out, video of a mob of teens outside Arbor Place Mall last Saturday night has gone viral on the Internet and authorities say they’re still not sure what exactly went on.
Michael Keck made the one minute and 15 second video on his phone that shows what appears to be a large crowd of teens jumping and screaming in the parking lot in front of Sears around 10:30 Saturday night. About halfway into the video, a small red car drives into the mob and teens can be seen scattering.
Keck posted the video on Facebook, where nearly 800 people had shared it directly from his page by Thursday afternoon. The video is now on YouTube and has been picked up by at least one Atlanta TV station.
Douglasville Police Chief Chris Womack estimates there were around 45 mostly older teens involved in the mob. He said there have been no reports of injuries so far and that it’s still unclear if any laws were broken.
Womack said two off-duty detectives were working the carnival set up in the parking lot nearby. He said the carnival was loud and enclosed, making it hard for the detectives to hear or see the mob that had developed closer to the mall.
Once the initial call came in around 10:32 p.m., Womack said the detectives went to see what was going on and found the crowd running in all different directions.
“We don’t have anybody that’s come forward and said they were involved in an altercation,” Womack said. “We didn’t make contact with anybody. Once officers responded, we kept that area hot the rest of the night.”
Chris Jarrad, the driver of the red car that ultimately broke up the mob, came forward Wednesday.
Womack said DPD investigators talked to Jarrad, who said he was just trying to prevent somebody from getting hurt.
Womack said there was widespread speculation that Jarrad had a gun.
“We’ve talked to the guy that filmed it, who said, no, he never saw a gun,” said Womack. “And then the guy in the red car said ‘No, I did not have a weapon.’”
Jarrad had his girlfriend and daughter in the car when he drove into the mob, which Womack said was dangerous because “going into a crowd like that, that guy had no idea at that point who might or might not have had a pistol and started shooting, lighting up his car.”
There have also been questions about security at the mall.
Attempts to get a statement from mall officials Wednesday and Thursday were unsuccessful.
Womack said from what he knows about mall security “they do scale way back” when the mall is closed.
DPD has a full-time officer stationed at the mall when it’s open, Womack said. He said Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputies patrol the movie theater, which stays open several hours after the mall closes.
Womack said the incident was in some ways like his days in high school during the early-mid 1980s, when there was an occasional skirmish between students at rival Douglas County and Lithia Springs high schools.
While he said he can’t say for sure if anyone involved Saturday had a gun, he said the big difference between the 1980s and now is that more teens seem to have access to weapons. And he said any time a group of even 10 people get together and emotions flare up, "somebody could get hurt."
Womack said one take away from the incident Saturday is that parents need to “step up and keep a better tab on where their kids are.”
“It’s a parent’s job, it’s their responsibility to know where their kids are and what they’re out doing,” said Womack.
He encourages anyone with information about the incident Saturday to call Douglasville Police at 770-920-3010.
“We’re wiling to speak to anybody that can help us figure out what was going on and who was involved and what we can do to prevent it,” Womack said. “That’s not good business for the mall. We don’t want that type of activity out here.”