BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Fighting among teens is getting to be a huge concern. The Mall of Louisiana was closed Saturday after several fights. And, word is spreading a similar scenario might play out at another popular hangout.
Strikes, spares and safety were all on the minds of the McCaa family as they bowled at All Star Lanes on Airline Highway. Safety is their top priority because of what happened at the mall, especially since Brittany McCaa, 15, was there.
"I wanted to go home," she said. "It was like, I thought it was going to be another big shooting thing."
Instead, it was Operation Instagram. A post on social media caught the attention of about 200 or so area teens, with the purpose being to take one big group picture. However, the play went awry.
"A few of those teens decided to start a scuffle," said Casey Rayborn-Hicks, spokesperson for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.
Patrisha McCaa was picking up her teen daughter from the mall around the same time.
"You kind of think they're safe, especially at the mall, you know," she said.
Now, a Facebook post is grabbing attention. It refers to an "Operation Instagram Pt. 2 next Saturday at Don Carters," which is now All Star Lanes on Airline. There were tweets in response to the post urging against a second attempt at a group picture.
"They're moving from place to place and trying to find different places," Patrisha McCaa added.
Meanwhile, Michael Lacroix, the general manager of the bowling alley, is prepared.
"We definitely always have extra duty officers Friday and Saturday nights," Lacroix explained. "We're extending the hours and extending the number of officers."
Along with the increased security, Lacroix said all bowlers must have on a wristband while at All Star. If they don't have a wristband, officers will ask them to leave. And, unlike the mall, he said there are only two side entrances and one main one. He plans to have an officer at all three, plus others inside and some outside.
Below is a statement sent on behalf of Todd Denton, general manager of the Mall of Louisiana.
"At Mall of Louisiana, the safety and security of our shoppers are always our top priorities. We are fortunate to have a great working relationship with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Department. This Saturday, there was an unexpected large amount of people gathered in the food court due to a social media posting. Based simply upon the size of the crowd, the sheriff's department determined it was necessary to evacuate the mall to further ensure the safety of all shoppers. There were no reports of injuries or incidents related to Saturday night's event. In addition to our relationship with the sheriff's department, our customized public safety program entails many measures. These measures are designed to ensure our shoppers have a safe and enjoyable time at our center. We cannot discuss the specifics of the program because to do so would compromise our efforts. As part of our efforts and our commitment to public safety, we regularly review our safety program and will amend it as necessary."
"From what we can tell, there was a fight that broke out amongst some of the teens that were in the food court," said Rayborn-Hicks.
EBRSO sent 55 deputies to the scene. A dozen troopers from the Louisiana State Police and another dozen officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department responded to the incident over the weekend.