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8 charged in Fox Valley Mall brawl, cops probing national link

Shoppers at Fox Valley Mall in 2003. | Sun-Times file photo

Despite large fights breaking out inside shopping malls across the country, including one at Fox Valley Mall in west suburban Aurora, Chicago area police departments say they’re not anticipating any more problems at malls here.

Eight teenagers are facing misdemeanor charges stemming from the Monday night fight at Fox Valley that temporarily shut down the shopping center on the Naperville-Aurora border, Aurora police said Tuesday.

Police were investigating whether that brawl was connected to the series of similar ones across the country. Fights and disturbances — possibly spurred by activity on social media — were reported at shopping centers in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Indiana and Connecticut.

“Aurora Police continue to investigate what role social media may have played in organizing the disturbance and what connection the disturbance may have to other similar incidents that were reported in several cities across the nation,” Aurora police said in a statement.

In Schaumburg, home to the gargantuan Woodfield Mall, police were monitoring the shopping center for potential dust-ups on Tuesday. All was quiet as of midday. “We don’t have any indication of additional officers being needed at mall,” Schaumburg police Sgt. Christy Lindhurst said.

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Officer Eric Swaback, of the Skokie Police Department, said Old Orchard Mall hires off-duty Skokie police officers every year between Thanksgiving and New Years to provide extra security.

“That’s not a reaction to the fights,” said Swaback, who added that the Skokie Police Department has received “no specific intelligence” about potential fights breaking out at the north suburban mall.

On Monday in Aurora, a “large group” of teens gathered in the Fox Valley Mall food court. Several police officers responded around 6:30 p.m. and told the teens to disperse, according to Aurora police. The teens ignored them and a large fight broke out, followed by several smaller altercations.

While trying to break up the fight, a sergeant and a mall security officer were struck, police said. The disturbance escalated as the crowd refused to obey police orders and some of the teens threw drinks and other items.

Police evacuated the mall and closed it for about an hour while about 75 officers brought the situation under control, police said.

A 17-year-old girl was charged with battery and resisting police; and a 15-year-old girl was charged with resisting police and disorderly conduct, police said. Charged with battery were a 13-year-old girl, 15-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy; while two 14-year-old boys and a 16-year-old girl were with obstructing police, according to police. All of the teens were from Aurora except one, who lives in North Aurora.

All of the charges are misdemeanors, though they could be upgraded to felonies, police said.

Contributing: Daily Herald, AP