North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road, stopped allowing people to enter the building about 7:30 p.m. on March 23 after a flash mob, organized on social media, brought more than 100 unsupervised juveniles to the shopping center, resulting in fights and disturbances inside the building and the arrest of one man.

Harvey Ahitow, general manager of the North Riverside Park Mall, confirmed that a “trend” message, distributed on social media websites, was the reason so many juveniles began appearing at the mall in the early evening.

The first report of disturbance came in at 7:15 p.m., with officers from Riverside and North Riverside responding to the center court area of the upper level where large groups of juveniles were gathering and a group of girls were reported to be fighting.

As officers and mall security were attempting to control the situation and detain one of the girls, a man allegedly charged and tackled officers, knocking over a group of people.

That man, who reportedly was the father of the girl police were trying to detain, was eventually subdued using a stun gun and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Other police units from Stickney, Forest Park, Cicero, Berwyn and Lyons responded to help maintain order until about 9:45 p.m. as juveniles left the mall in groups and headed east into Berwyn and onto buses.

 North Riverside Park Mall endured a similar incident in late December, and Police Chief Deborah Garcia said social media “trend” messages have become more frequent, although they don’t always result in a major incident.

Police and mall officials have had some success getting social media platforms like Facebook to take down the trend posts, but not always. After seeing a trend post circulating on March 22, Garcia said North Riverside hired back additional officers for Saturday and notified surrounding agencies.

Mall officials were enforcing their youth escort policy on March 23, but juveniles were able to enter through stores like Penney’s, which do not necessarily enforce the policy.

Ahitow said mall management continues to work with police and stores, including the new Round One family entertainment complex, which is a draw for younger patrons, to solve the problem.

“Round One is new to the party, so we’re not sure exactly where they fit into the picture,” Ahitow said. “We’re all working toward a resolution.”

But he expressed frustration that those coming to the mall in response to flash mob posts on social media are doing so expressly to cause trouble. He said he’d like to see juveniles who refuse to leave the property arrested and charged with trespassing.

“They’re coming here intent on causing problems,” Ahitow said of the flash mobs. “It’s premeditated. If they don’t leave when they’re asked, it’s trespassing, and we need to lock them up because they’re so freaking disrespectful, it’s unbelievable.” 


Babysitter arrested
for going AWOL

Riverside police charged a 20-year-old Bolingbrook woman with endangering the life of a child after she walked away from a 2-year-old boy she was babysitting in Riverside during the early morning hours of March 18.

Police reported that the mother had paid the babysitter $60 to watch the child as she went out to dinner with friends to celebrate her birthday. After midnight, the babysitter became frustrated when she couldn’t reach the child’s mother by phone or by text message. Around 1 a.m., she decided to leave the house and go home, leaving the 2-year-old in his crib.

The child’s mother arrived home around 3:25 a.m. to her child screaming. She called 911, and police later took the babysitter into custody and turned the case over to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The child was not harmed, according to police.


Shots fired

Brookfield police responded to the area near Sahler and Blanchan avenues on March 20 about 7:25 p.m. after someone called 911 to report hearing three gunshots.

Witnesses said that after hearing the gunshots, they observed someone described as a black male juvenile wearing tight gold pants and a white hooded sweatshirt with blue squares on the elbows running southbound on Blanchan from Sahler.

Police were unable to locate a suspect or any shell casings. They continue to search for surveillance video that may exist from cameras in the area.


Gun displayed during road rage

Brookfield police charged a 28-year-old Brookfield man with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct after he reportedly displayed a handgun to another motorist during what was described as a road rage incident on March 20 about 6:20 p.m. near the intersection of Maple and Shields avenues.

According to the police report, the victim told police the two vehicles almost collided at the intersection, setting off what started as a verbal altercation and escalated when the offender began aggressively pumping his brakes in front of the victim’s vehicle, causing the victim to go around the side.

As the victim passed, the other driver reportedly waved a silver revolver, though he never pointed it directly at the victim, who called police. The offender reportedly told police he pulled out the gun in self-defense because he was afraid of what the other driver might do.


Stuck on the tracks

Brookfield police charged a 40-year-old Chicago man with drunken driving and other traffic offenses after he drove his 2018 Kia Optima onto the railroad service tracks leading to the Sweetener Supply plant in the 9500 block of Southview Avenue on March 23 around 3:15 a.m.

An officer on patrol reported seeing the vehicle stuck on the tracks and said the driver, who got out of the vehicle as the officer approached, appeared intoxicated. Inside the vehicle, police reported finding one unopened can of spiked punch and a receipt showing the driver had purchased a six-pack of the beverage the night before.

The driver didn’t appear to have an answer to why his vehicle got stuck on the tracks. His blood alcohol content was reportedly .188, which is more than twice the legal limit of .08.


Vehicle burglary

A resident of the 2900 block of Desplaines Ave., North Riverside, contacted police on the morning of March 16 to report that, during the overnight hours, someone had entered her unlocked vehicle, which was parked in front of the residence, and removed keys to her mother’s house in Chicago. 


These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments, March 16-24, and represent a portion of the incidents to which police responded. Unless otherwise indicated, anybody named in these reports has only been charged with a crime. These cases have not been adjudicated.

— Compiled by Bob Uphues