Rollicking teens, hundreds strong, storm an Ocoee theater in Florida in a social media-organized anarchism Saturday night. The unruly mob of teenagers reportedly attempted to force their way into the movie theater to see the salacious showing of the erotic book turned skin flick, Fifty Shades of Grey. Police estimate that 800 to 900 teens showed up, leaving a swath of vandalism, stolen goods and freaked out moviegoers.
Writes the Orlando Sentinel on Feb. 15: “Hundreds of teens caused a disturbance and rushed a movie theater in Ocoee Saturday night, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The incident took place at the AMC West Oaks 14.” Social media video shows that the majority of the teenagers were African American.
Orange Det. Sgt. Lourdes Clayton said: “Hundreds of juveniles kind of rushed the movie theater. Ocoee PD was able to get them out of the theater, but an issue erupted in the parking lot.”
A few hundred teens were able to bust through and get into the theater, but after security was able to drive them back out into the parking lot, the mob turned on whatever they could get their hands on. Gunshots were heard, fighting broke out and at least one patron was robbed. A local gas station was burgled and customers at a nearby Taco Bell were harassed. Police also recovered a stolen car, filled with drugs.
Police from nearby counties and the towns of Windemere and Winter Garden reinforced the Ocoee Police Department. It took a few hours to disperse the crowd. Police said that some of those involved in the riot were only middle schoolers; parents were called to pick up their children.
Despite the size of the crowd, police only arrested a few youths. According to the Daily Mail, one juvenile was “arrested for battery and resisting an officer without violence and another was arrested on misdemeanor drug charges,” the Ocoee Police Department said.
“Our main concern is this: These are middle and high school kids going to a public movie theater, some armed with guns, some firing guns, some fighting in the parking lot, disturbing everyone else there. Not only that, but putting them in danger with the violence they’re creating,” said Orange County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Paul Hopkins.
Although no serious injuries were reported, those who were there with tickets to enjoy an evening at the theater were left shaken. One woman described the scene as a “herd of elephants.”
Moviegoer Jessica Weckerly said: “My anxiety hit the roof. I was like, ‘How do we get out?’” Weckerly and her husband were at the theater for the screening of “Fifty Shades of Grey” when she said the teens “just bum-rushed the entire theater…it was like a herd of elephants coming at us.”
“Everybody just started scattering, ducking underneath the seats,” added Kenny Johnson. “It was a scary moment.”
Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office quickly arrived and called for backup.
“At that point, since we’re dealing with 800 to 900 juveniles, they called for assistance from surrounding agencies,” Lt. Hopkins said. “We all formed together and were successfully able to get all these kids out of the mall area. It’s a big concern to us that our juveniles are doing this at such an early age. These are middle to high school kids who have guns, who are shooting guns, are robbing people, driving stolen cars and they have drugs in their cars.”
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