Ocoee, Florida — Four law enforcement agencies were dispatched to an AMC Theatre at the West Oaks Mall in Ocoee in response to a riot on Valentine’s Day.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said approximately 800-900 black middle and high school aged teenagers stormed the theater and food court with absolutely no regard for the safety of others.
Approximately 200 of the teens made it inside before security gates were locked, which witnesses say made matters worse, because they were then locked in the theater with the teens.
According to police, the teens that were locked outside began to fight and harass innocent people.
Some of the teens were armed with handguns and fired shots into the crowed.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Paul Hopkins said they recovered a stolen car and drugs during the riot.
One teen was charged with Battery and Resisting Arrest, and a second teen was arrested on drug charges.
Someone was also robbed during the riot.
Lieutenant Hopkins also said parents need to do a better job at knowing where their kids are at all times. “It is very concerning that these are middle and high school kids out with drugs and weapons while stealing cars and robbing people.”
After the riot, approximately 40 kids stormed a local gas station. According to Ocoee Police, they stole as much as they could carry.
Police said the mob became angry when the store was closed and the clerk would not let them in, so they decided to force their way in.
Ocala Post contacted several of the businesses within the West Oaks Mall and spoke to several business owners.
All of the business owners, who do not want their names used, have accused the mall of not taking proper measures for this type of situation to ensure the safety of employees and shoppers.
Mall management said, “There is nothing we can do.”
According to business owners, they believe management is afraid of being labeled a racist because it is only black teenagers that are causing the trouble. Store owners said it is not about race, but about right and wrong.
“Something needs to be done before one of these teens gets killed, or the teens kill an innocent person. Not to mention this type of behavior is causing us to lose revenue,” one business owner said. “And the thing that really irritates me is that mall management and the media is not calling the situation what it really is.”
Officials said the riot might have started because several of the teens were denied R-rated movie tickets. The teens immediately accused ticket operators of being racist. Basically, officials said, the teens were mad because they couldn’t get their way.
The movie the teens wanted to see; “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Authorities said after reviewing Facebook post’s it became clear this situation was orchestrated in advance.
Anna Khavulya with Moonbeam Capital Investments, the company that manages the West Oaks Mall, later released this statement: “Effective immediately, after 9 p.m. every day, all minors under the age of 17 must be accompanied by an adult while on mall property, and all unaccompanied minors will be escorted off the property.”
This is the second riot of this caliber to occur since April 2014.