Mobs of teenagers have clashed in a string of violent San Francisco mall brawls, caught on video in one melee attacking and stomping each other – as well as seemingly innocent onlookers.
San Francisco police told Fox News Digital in a statement that three separate incidents took place at the Stonestown Mall from March 15-17 involving groups of juveniles attacking each other or bystanders.
“On Friday, several youths were pepper sprayed by other youth,” the department said. “Officers responded to the scene and the youth dispersed from the area. Officers discovered one youth suffering from injuries as a result of the physical altercation.”
The victim was treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, police said. No arrests have been made.
Cellphone video from one incident around 4 p.m. Friday inside a Target store shows a group of young people pouncing on a man, then slamming him to the ground.
“Over the past couple of weeks, there have altercations between young folks at Stonestown mall resulting in physical injuries,” District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar posted on Twitter on Sunday.
“Stonestown private security was overwhelmed and SFPD officers were deployed. Videos of the altercations have been posted and promoted on Instagram live.”
Melgar said the mall will be increasing its security patrols.
“I’m very scared,” food court vendor Guang Wei, who witnessed one of the fights at the food court, told CBS Bay Area. “I cannot continue to do business here in this kind of environment.”
Supervisor Joel Engardio told the station that the city is 500 police officers below where it should be for a city of its size.
“We need police officers to walk the beat, be on the street, be at shopping centers like Stonestown,” Engardio said. “We don’t have that luxury right now because we have so few police officers.”
The police department told Fox News Digital it is “working closely with the shopping center officials to assess the security measures in place to address criminal activity, especially the violent acts and physical altercations.”
The San Francisco Police Department has been battered by staffing shortages in recent years, with the force seeing a 12% decrease in its number of full-duty sworn officers from 2019 to 2022, CBS News reported last month. As of January, the department employed 1,537 police officers, far below the recommended 2,182 officers, according to city Supervisor Matt Dorsey.
“San Francisco is on the precipice of a potentially catastrophic police staffing shortage, and there are too many public safety problems we’ll be helpless to solve if we don’t start solving SFPD’s understaffing crisis first,” Dorsey said in a statement earlier this year.
Mayor London Breed redirected $120 million from law enforcement to fund other city initiatives in 2020 as crime continued to surge in the city – with homicides increasing by 20% in 2020 compared to 2019. Homicides also increased 17% in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to city data.
By December 2021, Breed made an emergency request to the Board of Supervisors to add more funds for city police, but the department has struggled to achieve an ideal staffing position.
Mayor Breed and the San Francisco Unified School District are expected to release a joint statement on the mall violence on Tuesday.
“We are outraged by the unacceptable behavior that occurred at Stonestown Galleria which was a clear violation of our Code of Conduct,” a spokesperson for the mall told Fox News Digital. “We are working closely with school, city, and law enforcement leadership to address this issue.”
“The safety and well-being of our guests and tenants is our top priority and we have zero tolerance for this disruptive behavior.”
Police told Fox News Digital that they “do not have any evidence that shows that these incidents are related nor are they related to any school or school activity.”
“We have not determined where these youths are from and we are unable to confirm the schools these students attend.”
Fox News Digital’s Emma Colton and Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this report.