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Police to boost presence tonight at Walden Galleria

Cheektowaga police plan to boost their presence at the Walden Galleria on Thursday night, a day after several fights among youths disrupted shopping at the region's largest mall.

About 25 Cheektowaga officers will be deployed to the mall, more than triple the amount of officers who were stationed there Wednesday night when fights broke out on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

In addition to an increase in mall security, Buffalo Peacemakers, an anti-violence group that works with young people, are also expected to be on hand.

A juvenile and an 18-year-old were arrested following Wednesday's commotion. The juvenile was charged with menacing and the 18-year-old was charged with disorderly conduct.

In addition, six other juveniles were brought back to Cheektowaga Police Headquarters and released to their parents.

No injuries were reported to police and no weapons were recovered.

Walden Galleria to boost police, review policy after fights

The size of the crowd at the Galleria on Wednesday was consistent with what police have seen for the day after Christmas in prior years, Cheektowaga Police Chief David J. Zack said.

"We have a problem that needs addressing," Zack told reporters during an afternoon news conference.

Police are still putting together information about what happened at the mall, the chief said. A report of shots fired turned out to be false, but it triggered officers from other agencies to respond to the scene, Zack said.

There were 22 calls for fights, but police believe they received multiple calls for the same incidents. The largest fight may have involved as many as 10 individuals. It appears to police there were a relatively small number of young people who may have been involved in a number of incidents at several locations inside the mall, he said.

Some stores enacted procedures in place for "active shooter" situations by pulling down their gates and keeping customers and employees locked inside.

There were seven officers stationed at the mall on Wednesday night, aside from those working a private detail at the Regal Cinemas.

It was not clear whether mall management enacted the facility's lockdown protocol or if individual stores did it on their own, the chief said.

"We know gates were closed. We know that stores were enacting protocols. How they determined that, we don't know," he said.

In addition to the increased police presence Thursday night, there will be more police and security at the mall for the remainder of the holiday season, mall owner Pyramid Management Group said in a statement.

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