Chaos erupted over the weekend as an estimated 900 teenagers stormed a Florida Mall robbing people, assaulting moviegoers, and even shooting into the crowd.
The chaos happened on Valentine’s Day at a movie theater in West Oaks Mall in Ocoee, Florida. An estimated 900 teenagers stormed the theater, as hundreds outside the mall intimidated those trying to enjoy their weekend. Approximately 200 of the teens made it inside before security rushed to lock down the building, which witnesses say only made matters worse, because they were then locked in the theater with the violent teens.
According to people on the scene, the thugs that were locked outside began to fight and harass innocent people who were waiting to get into the theater.
911 Calls from Trapped Moviegoers
Police in Orange County are still trying to determine whether the chaos was organized by an individual or group of people. Police from four area departments had to be called in to get the situation under control.
Several fights broke out in the building as police tried to remove the teens from the theater. Once outside, there were reports of gunshots being fired into the air, and at least one teen was arrested on gun charges.
“At that point, since we’re dealing with 800 to 900 juveniles, they called for assistance from surrounding agencies,” said Lt. Paul Hopkins, of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. “We all formed together and were successfully able to get all these kids out of the mall area.”
But once the theater was locked down, another 40 kids broke off from the main group and stormed a local gas station. According to Ocoee Police, they stole as much as they could carry.
Lt. Paul Hopkins, a spokesman with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, told the West Orange Times and Observer that “Our main concern is this: These are middle- to high-school kids who have guns, who are shooting guns, who are robbing people, driving stolen cars, and they have drugs in their car.”
This is one of the threats I talk about in The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World. These types of events are becoming increasingly common, and when they happen they can overtake an area in a matter of seconds. You usually don’t have a lot of time to respond, so you need to be alert and have a plan in place.
Stay aware of your surroundings at all times. If you get the slightest feeling that something may be wrong, you need to listen to your instincts and get the hell out.
Keep an eye on the crowd. If you notice an abnormal increase in the number of people in your area, this could be the first sign that something isn’t right. Immediately scan the area, look for exits, and try to get a feel for what types of people are walking around.
Beat them at their own game. Although these riots often seem to pop up out of nowhere, they are often heavily promoted or talked about on sites like Twitter and Facebook. You don’t get 900 thugs showing up at the same time by chance. If you plan on going to a mall, a theater, or any public venue that may be targeted by these thugs, jump on Twitter and type in the name of your destination. It only takes a couple of seconds of your time, but those couple of seconds can warn you to any impending dangers.
So what happens if you find yourself in the middle of a full-blown riot?
Have an Exit Strategy. Whenever I go into a building, the first thing I do is quickly scan the area. I make sure that I have a pretty good sense of where the exits are, and I always have a plan for when things go bad. If you failed to look for the buildings exits upon arrival, quickly scan the area to see if you can make a quick getaway. If you’re near an exit, get out as fast as possible.
You don’t see an Exit, now what? If you were not able to make a quick exit, the next thing you want to do is try to blend in. By blending into the chaos, and not drawing attention to yourself, you will be less likely to become a target. But remember, your number one goal is to keep looking for the quickest possible escape route. As soon as you find it, get out.
Go with the flow – Think of the mob as a large raging river. The best way to get out of a river is to swim with the current and slowly make your way to the edge. The same thing applies in this situation. The last thing you want to do is to yell, scream, cut through the crowd, or draw any unwanted attention onto yourself. Stay Calm, go with the flow, and work your way to the edge. Then quietly slip away to safety.