CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — In an effort to keep mall visitors safe, the Walden Galleria is temporarily extending its parental escort policy.
Typically, the policy is in effect during Friday and Saturday evenings after 4 p.m. During those times, guests under 18 have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian who’s at least 21, and all guests must be able to show valid identification with a photo and date of birth.
“Our goal is to ensure that all guests have a continuous, safe and enjoyable shopping, dining and entertainment experience,” Pyramid Management Group, the mall’s owner, says.
After claims of multiple incidents began reaching social media on Sunday and Monday, Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould initially told News 4 there were only “a couple disturbances” at the Galleria on Sunday.
But in a later news release from the Cheektowaga Police Department, police said there were “multiple fights that broke out between youths.”
“The police department had 12 officers assigned specifically to the patrol the mall to assist mall security with issues that may arise,” the news release stated.
Of those incidents, two juveniles were arrested in separate incidents and “numerous others” were kicked out of the facility, police said. Some had to be held until they could be picked up by a parent or guardian.
Other fights possibly involving weapons were reported, but none were confirmed by officers at the scene.
But in an unrelated incident, an adult working at Dave & Buster’s was charged after police say he possessed a loaded handgun while working.
According to police, another employee noticed the gun in 29-year-old Javier Romero’s waistband. Law enforcement officers were subsequently called.
Romero, who was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, did not have an explanation for the gun, only telling police it belonged to his girlfriend, they say.
In addition to these incidents, police also investigated a report of a shot being fired from the level five parking ramp. After checking out the area, no evidence of a shot was confirmed.
Even though there were multiple incidents, police say there were no injuries reported and the mall closed at 7 p.m., as scheduled.
In order to proactively try to stop more incidents from happening, the Galleria is going to keep its parental escort policy in place through Thursday, December 30. Like the usual policy, it will take effect each day at 4 p.m.
“While virtually all of our visitors act responsibly (99.9%), we are mindful that a very small percentage can cause isolated disruptions,” Pyramid Management Group says. “We are taking steps to address that.”