A Jacksonville, Florida party went a bit too wild this week after hundreds of teenagers relocated their shindig to a local Walmart store and went on a rampage, all the while videotaping their outrageous escapades.
Police investigating the Saturday night stampeding of the north Florida store say that around 300 youths were involved in the melee, which miraculously didn’t directly spawn any serious injuries. Moments before storming the store, however, one 20-year-old party-goer reported being shot in the leg while leaving the original get-together.
The entire incident began at what a neighbor tells the Florida Times-Union was a “massive crowd party” in a subdivision in Jacksonville that attracted noise complaints from neighbors. When the police responded to the scene, attendees regrouped around two miles down the road to Walmart.
In the aftermath, police say that only snacks and soda were stolen and that minimal damage and no injuries were reported at the Walmart, although a $1,500 store security scanner is believed to have been broken during the event. Cell-phone footage recorded at the scene of the crime shows several hundred youths clearly causing a disturbance in the store, taking watermelons out of produce containers and generally making mischief throughout the front of the store. Gun shots were also reportedly fired outside of the store but no one was hit.
"The actions of these teenagers was deplorable and put at risk the safety of innocent bystanders, staff and customers," Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee tells the Florida Times-Union. "We are committed to assisting law enforcement in any way we can to identify the people responsible for the commotion, including acts of vandalism and thefts at the store."
Police are already drawing comparisons to a similar incident last year outside of Washington, D.C. that involved a gang of unruly youths storming a 7-11 and causing coordinated mischief only momentarily before leaving the store. Such spontaneous gatherings have been considered “flash mobs” in the past, but with a new rash of events involving theft and destruction, police have a new phrase: flash-robs.