A 24-year-old man, a 20-year-old and four teenagers face charges filed by Cheektowaga police in connection with a melee that erupted Friday night in the region’s largest shopping mall.
The fight broke out one night after Christmas at the Walden Galleria, where police say they have come to expect trouble during the holidays.
“For some reason, we always get trouble near the movie theaters in the mall on Christmas night and the night after,” said Assistant Police Chief James Speyer. “I don’t know if these kids just have nothing better to do, or why they do it. So much for ‘Peace on Earth, and goodwill toward men.’ ”
While the fight that occurred around 6 p.m. Friday was upsetting to shoppers and annoying to police, it was fortunate that no weapons were displayed, no innocent bystanders were hurt and no one was injured badly enough to require hospital treatment, Speyer said.
Police said “about 10” teens, apparently associated with two rival groups, squared off and began fighting near a second-level food court, which is also near the mall’s movie theaters. A man who observed the action took video of the action on his cellphone camera and posted it on Facebook.
The video shows youths shoving and throwing punches at each other, and some participants throwing packages at each other.
Speyer said police do not know what specifically started the skirmish. “It appeared that there were people associated with two different groups who recognized each other and started to battle,” he said.
When police and security guards broke up the fight, some of the participants refused to leave the mall, Speyer said.
One teen who was asked to leave allegedly shoved a police officer, and a 24-year-old man who tried to intercede on that teen’s behalf was arrested.
All six of the individuals who were arrested were males from the city of Buffalo, police said. They included a 20-year-old, two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old who were charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.
The 17-year-old who allegedly shoved an officer was charged with misdemeanors of resisting arrest, harassment and disorderly conduct. Police said Terrelle Johnson, 24, of East Ferry Street, who tried to intercede on behalf of the youth who shoved the policeman, was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.
Police did not release the names of the teens or the 20-year-old because they may be given youthful-offender status, Speyer said.
A special detail of Cheektowaga officers was on duty at the mall on Christmas night and on Friday because police suspected there would be trouble, police said. There was some minor trouble near the mall theaters on Christmas night, and several youths were ejected, Speyer said.
When asked how often such fights erupt at the mall during the holidays, Speyer said “more often than we’d like” but declined to be more specific.