February 20, 2024
'Mall security is not a babysitting service,' management said after $4 movie tickets lured a large crowd of minors, some of whom fought with each other.

The Moreno Valley Mall plans to have minors who are not accompanied by adults wear identification after three separate fights broke out Sunday, Aug. 27, on a day when cheap movie tickets lured a larger-than-usual crowd of youngsters.

The minors will have to wear lanyards that contain their names and their parents’ contact information if they are in the mall unaccompanied after 5 p.m. on weekdays or anytime on weekends, Chelsey Ritchie, a spokeswoman for mall owner Matt Ilbak, said Monday. Their parents would be called if the minors misbehave, she said.

No start date for the ID requirement has been established. A similar requirement is in place at a mall that Ilbak owns in Florida, Ritchie said.

The fights happened around 6 p.m. with about 20 people involved in the first, even after the mall increased security in anticipation of the influx of minors. Theaters nationwide were selling tickets for $4 Sunday. Ritchie said social media rumors that shots were fired were untrue.

Mall security called for backup from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, which has a substation there.

Deputies found no evidence of a shooting, and the fighters had fled by the time deputies arrived, said Sgt. Deirdre Vickers, a department spokeswoman. No one reported being injured, Vickers said.

The scuffles prompted mall management “to go back to the drawing board with regard to unattended youth at our property,” Ritchie said in a Facebook post made on behalf of the owner.

“We would like to remind you that the mall security is not a babysitting service and it is the responsibility of parents to raise their children to be respectful to others and to compose themselves accordingly when out in public,” the statement said.

Ritchie said that mall management could not order the Harkins theater there not to participate in future discounted ticket promotions. The first National Cinema Day was in 2022.

There were reports of minors fighting at other malls in California on Sunday.

At the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, a gun was fired but nobody was hit as an estimated 1,000 minors brawled. A few people were injured and some were cited. Sgt. Ron Salary said Monday that investigators have not determined why so many people showed up. Police increase their presence during the summer, Salary said, so the department does not plan to add patrols after Sunday’s skirmish.

In the Bay Area city of Emeryville, one minor was stabbed at the Bay Street Mall during a series of violent brawls involving 200 youths. There was a report of a shot being fired, but police said they did not locate any victims or firearms. The theater there participated in National Cinema Day, but police attributed the large gathering to a social media invitation, not the inexpensive tickets.

The National Association of Theatre Owners, an industry trade organization, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Staff Writer Hunter Lee and the Bay Area News Group contributed to this story.

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