CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Cheektowaga Police are investigating a series of clashes involving large groups of young people Saturday night at the Walden Galleria.
The disturbances not only stoked fear among shoppers at the Galleria- but also workers at the mall.
By the end of Saturday night, three juveniles were arrested. There were no reports of serious injuries, but by the time the mall closed, officers from four other police agencies had to be called in.
Safety is a constant concern. The mall was shut down for months due to COVID-19, and now that it’s open, there have been flare-ups of occurrences between young people.
Cheektowaga Police reported the first call at 6:25 p.m. Saturday- a call of about 30 underaged kids in the food court.
Just after 7 p.m., there were reports of a fight involving about 100 young people running through the mall. Police arrested three juveniles, accused of misdemeanors and a violation.
Two more fights were reported around 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
In the past, hundreds of young people have brought havoc to the mall, including a disturbance the day after Christmas last year.
Mark Andol, the owner of the Made in America store, said that between the lengthy closure earlier this year due to the pandemic and his employees worried about their safety, he moved his shop from the Galleria to a strip mall in Depew.
“Our move is good, it’s actually working out well at the strip mall and people do feel safer,” Andol said. “When it comes down to employees or the shopper, people want to safe where they are and where they are shopping.”
Management for the Walden Galleria issued a brief statement, saying that customer safety is their highest priority and they will be pursuing all avenues to hold accountable individuals who can’t behave appropriately.
The Walden Galleria established a “parental escort” policy two years ago, mandating any mallgoers under the age of 18 be accompanied by an adult after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
News 4 reached out to mall management to ask whether that policy was being enforced on Saturday, but we haven’t heard back so far.