NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) -- Newport News police are taking extra steps to keep shoppers safe at Patrick Henry Mall.
It's an effort to avoid a repeat of violence that happened exactly one year ago on December 26. Several fights broke out causing mayhem. It started in the food court then spread to the parking lot and other areas of the mall.
"It was just like a big mass of people fighting. It was chaotic. People were running and screaming because you didn't know if they had a gun or anything," James Counts said.
It was all part of a mall melee that was planned at malls across the country. Police say the one at Patrick Henry last year was loosely organized by teens on social media
"I saw the tweets on Twitter. I didn't think anything seriously of it because you see stuff on Twitter all the time-- you don't think twice about it. But then I saw the news stories," Emily Pope said.
Police have been monitoring social media and don't have any indication of a planned brawl this year, but in case something does, they are there and ready.
"It may not prevent something but hopefully it can prevent something from escalating," Linda Lutz said.
Newport News police would not say how many officers were assigned to mall security duties and would not comment on how long the increased presence would continue.
13News Now reached out to mall officials after hearing from a source that chaperones would be required for anyone under the age of 18. We still haven't received a response.