Brawl at Rosedale leaves 1 critical, 1 in jail

  • Article by: SARAH LEMAGIE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2010 - 11:41 PM

Police locked down Rosedale Center on Saturday evening after a melee broke out; chairs flew and one teen was stabbed.

Shoe-shoppers and teeny-boppers returned to Rosedale Center Sunday afternoon, many apparently unaware of the brawl that had left one teen critically injured and led police to clear the mall and lock its doors on Saturday night.

Roseville police called to the mall shortly before 8 p.m. had early clues that this was no ordinary scuffle: The first reports described a dozen people fighting near the upper-level Herberger's store entrance, using chairs as weapons.

When they arrived, officers said, they found several dozen young people fighting, and an 18-year-old victim with severe lacerations on his face. As they began searching for a suspect, large groups of teenagers refused to clear the area and more fights reportedly broke out in the mall, police said. More officers were called in, including two K9 units.

Then police learned that another victim, a 16-year-old boy, had been found stabbed in the back near the interior entrance to the restaurant Ruby Tuesday.

At that point, police had mall security workers lock all of the exterior doors and ask shoppers to go home.

Shortly before the fight, about a half-dozen teens were asked to leave the clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch for swearing and making excessive noise, said store employee Mitchell Peterson, adding that he heard that the group already had been kicked out of another business.

The teens left and apparently went outside, but came back into the mall a few minutes later, still agitated, he said.

"For some reason, one kid took his shirt off. I don't know what that was about," Peterson said.

When fighting erupted in an open area inside the mall, bystanders gathered around the railing on the upper level to watch the mayhem, he said.

Police said the 16-year-old stabbing victim identified his attacker before he was taken to the hospital. At 8:30 p.m., investigators arrested a 17-year-old St. Paul male.

The suspect was later taken to the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center, where he was booked on probable cause of two counts of second-degree assault. Police said Sunday that he may be responsible for both assaults.

Police said early Sunday that the 16-year-old was in critical condition with multiple stab wounds, while the 18-year-old with facial cuts was in stable condition.

It's unclear what prompted the fight, they said.

Roseville police are asking anyone with information about the assaults to call 651-767-0640.

On Sunday afternoon, customers bought pretzels and got their nails done as the mall reverted to its normal weekend buzz.

"It doesn't concern me too much, I guess," said Katherine Nelson of St. Paul, who said she hadn't heard about the fight before she came to the mall with her twin toddlers. "I don't come here too often," she said, adding that it was probably an isolated incident.

The stabbing was "unusual" for the mall, said Sgt. Matthew Marshall of the Roseville Police Department. Most police calls to the mall involve traffic accidents, shoplifting and the like, he said.

"We get a few disturbance calls. Not a lot," he said. "They're usually minor, and by the time officers get there, people have already dispersed or left the scene."

Rosedale vice president and general manager Rollin Hunsicker declined Sunday to answer several questions about the frequency of police calls and fights at the mall, citing the ongoing police investigation. "Every shopping center has occasional incidents," he said.

The fight at Rosedale came almost exactly a year after two teenage boys were shot and wounded in a parking lot at the Southdale Center in Edina, in what police called a gang-related shooting.

"It is always unfortunate when something like this occurs," Hunsicker said of Saturday's stabbing in a statement. "Our thoughts go out to the victim and his family."

Rosedale takes "numerous proactive security measures," including daily patrols of the mall and surrounding parking lots and close coordination with local officials, the statement said. The mall also recently stepped up security, it said.

Nationwide, some malls have followed the example of the Mall of America, which created a policy more than a decade ago that limits unsupervised teen access. The rule requires kids under 16 to be accompanied by an adult over age 21 after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Fights dropped from 300 to two the year after the rule went into effect.

In the metro area, though, most malls instead rely on rules of good conduct to prevent fights.

Rosedale does not have a rule against unsupervised teens, Hunsicker said. "Obviously, it's based on perceived need, and at this stage of the game, we've been able to do things in such a way as to keep things ... orderly" without it, he said.

Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016

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