A mom’s petition calling for a 6 p.m. curfew on unsupervised teenagers at Concord Mills mall is nearing its goal of 10,000 signatures.
Sanida Sabanija started the petition on www.change.org after the mall was evacuated on Sept. 9 after a melee erupted in what police said was a large group of juveniles and young adults. About 9,375 people had signed the petition by Monday afternoon.
Sabanija told the (Concord) Independent Tribune that she enjoys going to the mall with her young family, but that lately it has become unbearable.
“The teens push around, run through the mall, use lewd language,” Sabanija told the newspaper. “It has a lot to do with lack of parental supervision. I no longer take my children to the mall.”
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Concord Mills is the No. 1 shopping entertainment destination of the Carolinas and among the most popular visitor attractions in the state, according to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
In last week’s incident, police charged a 14-year-old from Charlotte with two counts of assault on a government official and one count each of inciting a riot and resisting, obstructing or delaying a government official. A 15-year-old from Charlotte was charged with simple affray.
Authorities on Friday searched for 34-year-old William Earl Degrate and 19-year-old Nachell Miaya Berry, both of Charlotte, on simple affray charges. Police would have filed assault charges if a victim came forward, Concord Police Chief Gary Gacek said in a statement Friday.
Concord police received a call of shots fired at the mall on Saturday night, Gacek said on the department’s Facebook page. Concord police officers, Cabarrus County sheriff’s deputies, State Highway Patrol troopers and mall security “quickly restored order and dispersed the crowd,” according to the chief.
“Aside from the report of shots being fired, there is no evidence of gun violence – no shots fired and no one shot,” Gacek said. “Law enforcement and mall security conducted a thorough on-scene investigation that included a review of surveillance security cameras and witness interviews.
“Absent evidence of gun violence, social media chatter suggesting the disorder was something more than what the evidence shows is irresponsible and needs to stop,” Gacek said.
As far as last weekend’s disturbance at the mall, police are continuing to review “all available video and information posted on social media” to identify anyone who committed a crime during the fights, the chief said. “No one has contacted the department claiming to have been a victim of any crime,” Gacek said.
Police released a photo of a man also suspected of being involved in the disturbance.
He wore a three-lettered red sweatshirt, “and we believe there is a fair probability that someone knows this individual, and we are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying him,” Gacek said.
Anyone with information about the man or the Sept. 9 melee is asked to call the Concord Police Department at 704-920-5000.
The mall issued a statement about last week’s incident that does not say whether the mall will consider a curfew. A mall representative said the statement is all the mall will say.
Some area malls have curfews for teens. Northlake Mall in north Charlotte requires anyone 17 and under to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian after 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. At Eastridge Mall in Gastonia, the same requirement starts at 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays.
The statement issued by Concord Mills says:
“At Concord Mills, the safety of our guests and employees is always our top priority, and we are committed to providing a safe, secure shopping environment. To accomplish this, the center takes many proactive security measures, including maintaining a 24-hour patrol of the mall and surrounding parking lots. Concord Mills also maintains a close working relationship with the Concord Police Department, which has a precinct on property, and we collectively employ a comprehensive public safety program, which includes both visible and behind-the-scenes security measures.
“During their investigation of Saturday’s incident, the Concord Police Department confirmed that there was no evidence of shots fired, and that the noise reported was caused by a large, metal sign holder falling during the incident. It is unfortunate that social media chatter suggested the situation was more serious than the evidence revealed.
“As outlined in the Simon Code of Conduct, Concord Mills has a zero-tolerance policy for individuals who engage in disruptive behavior on our property. Copies of the Code of Conduct are posted at all entrances. To reinforce our commitment to the Code of Conduct, security officers will also be distributing copies to guests. Concord Mills takes the safety and security of our guests and employees very seriously and will not tolerate any kind of violent, disruptive behavior on the property.”
The mall has dealt with other incidents in the past, including last year when a former manager of the RCC Western Store that used to be in the mall was accused of cooking methamphetamine in the store’s bathroom with several friends, 10 to 12 times, Observer news partner WBTV reported. The manager was among 26 suspects arrested in connection with a $4 million methamphetamine ring.