Two people suffered minor injuries and police arrested 19 teenagers during a disturbance involving crowds of young people Saturday at Ford City Mall on the Southwest Side, authorities said.
About 4:45 p.m., a large group of disruptive teens ran yelling through the mall, which is located at 7601 S. Cicero Ave., according to a mall official.
Officials closed the mall minutes later, but the chaotic scene continued outside, where police found between 100 and 200 people damaging vehicles in the shopping center's parking lot, according to a police report.
Two people were taken to hospitals, according to Chicago Fire Department Chief Joe Roccasalva, a department spokesman.
A CTA bus driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to Holy Cross Hospital, said Roccasalva, who said he did not know what happened to him.
A "kid" was also hurt, and that person was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, also in good condition, Roccasalva said.
About 50 police squad cars assigned to multiple South Side districts, including Chicago Lawn, Englewood and Deering, and a helicopter responded to the scene, police said.
Traffic came to a standstill as teenagers jumped on cars, both parked and moving, according to a police report obtained by the Tribune. Many of those involved ignored orders to disperse, and police arrested 19 people between the ages of 13 and 18, according to police.
One teenager was charged with battery, and another was charged with criminal trespassing, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro said. The 17 remaining teens were charged with mob action. All the charges are misdemeanors, police said.
Officers did their best to control the disturbance, "trying to get everyone out of there safely," News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala said.
During the disturbance, the CTA had to reroute the No. 79 buses, which travel on 79th Street, as well as other buses in the immediate area.
Earlier in the afternoon, members of the teen band Mindless Behavior had appeared at the mall food court from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to promote their new release, "All Around the World," said John Sarama, the mall's senior general manager.
The band's autograph signing drew approximately 1,000 parents and children, primarily mothers and girls between the ages of 6 and 13, Sarama said.
About 45 minutes after the band left, the chaos began, Sarama said.
"A group of older youths came into the mall with the intent of causing havoc and chaos and were running through the mall, screaming, yelling and so forth," he said.
Security staff contacted the police department, and mall officials closed the mall about 5 p.m., Sarama said.
The mall did not sustain any property damage apart from a single broken planter, and it will reopen at 11 a.m. Sunday as usual, Sarama said.
In the meantime, mall officials are at a loss as they try to understand what happened.
"Ford City is a family-oriented mall," he said. "We have not had an incident like this [in the past], and I'm still in a little bit of a state of shock actually.
"What would make these youths come here to try and cause this kind of commotion and trouble?" he continued. "I don't know. But they did have a plan in mind."
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McClatchy-Tribune News Service