Gunshot-like noise during fight leads to chaos, panic at Jersey Gardens mall

Darla Miles Image
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Gunshot-like noise during fight leads to chaos at Jersey Gardens mall
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Darla Miles has more from Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH, New Jersey (WABC) -- Chaos and panic erupted in a mall in New Jersey Monday after a large fight broke out, with some shoppers thinking they heard gunfire.

It happened at the The Mills at Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth.

City officials in Elizabeth said there was no shooting in the mall, although that was the initial report that came in. Police say the fight broke out in the food court.

No shell casings were found, and there were no gunshot victims. The loud noise was the sound of a chair slamming down on the floor during the chaos.

"It was like 13 of us in the bathroom with a baby," said Tiamoyia White.

White said that somebody yelled 'shooter,' and after that, everybody just ran.

Elizabeth Major Christian Bollwage says between eight to 10 people were injured during the mayhem.

Several people, reportedly including two pregnant women, suffered minor injuries as shoppers tried to evacuate.

A 12-year-old broke his leg and an 8-year-old child suffered a cut finger.

Bollwage doubts this incident is linked to other similar panics caused at malls across the country Monday.

Mall-goers across the country had the same reaction to rumors of gunfire in Illinois, Colorado, and closer to home at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island, and The Shoppes at Buckland Hills mall in Manchester, Connecticut, where several people were arrested.

Brawls broke out at malls crowded with shoppers seeking post-Christmas deals.

Videos posted on social media show a stampede-like scenario play out at Jersey Gardens.

This video shows some people running inside one of the stores:

And this video shows heavy police presence in the mall:

The race to get out of the mall created an awful bottleneck, with traffic so bad it took up to two hours to drive or even walk out.

The Mills at Jersey Gardens released a statement Monday night saying,

"We can confirm that there was an altercation earlier today at The Mills at Jersey Gardens. The incident is now over. The safety and security of our guests and employees is our top priority. As this is an ongoing investigation, we ask that you direct all further questions to the Elizabeth Police Department."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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