Downtown business owner says violent teen mobs not uncommon
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Police said that Saturday night's rampant vandalism and violence was an isolated event. But those who have seen groups of teens terrorize the area just south of Waterfront Park before, say it's nothing new.
Police responded to 17 separate incidents Saturday night between 7 and 9 p.m. They say the criminal acts occurred after police broke up a gathering of around 200 teenagers at Waterfront Park.
Following the assault of a 13-year-old girl and an adult male in Waterfront Park, the crowd dispersed and moved south. First, police were called to the White Castle on 1st and East Market Streets on a disorderly conduct call. Shortly after, they were called to Bader's Market on North 1st Street.
The manager of Bader's Market, Adam Bader, said it only took a few minutes for the teens to descend on the convenience store.
"As soon as he saw them coming over, he tried to lock the door," said Bader of the clerk on-duty Saturday night. Unfortunately, the man was too late. Surveillance video shows the mob trying to force entry, and police say they even punched the man several times as he tried to close and lock the doors.
Around the same time, and near Bader's Market, police say a group of teens assaulted a woman while she waited in traffic. Police said the teens threw trash cans at her car, punched her, and dragged her out of her car -- all in front of her young children.
In all, police say there were 17 incidents that night.
But so far, only two people have been arrested -- 18-year-old Je'Rece Archie and a juvenile -- the two were seen pulling a gun out of a trash can at the Big Four Bridge.
City officials are calling the events "unusual" and "isolated".
"Last night was not the rule," said Louisville Metro Chief of Police Steve Conrad at a press conference on Sunday. "It was an exception to the normal experience we see in Waterfront Park. It is a safe place to take your kids, it is a safe place to enjoy time with your family. But it is a public park and with any public location, you have the potential for problematic behavior."
During a press conference Monday afternoon, Mayor Greg Fischer reiterated what the Chief said.
"This was an extraordinarily unusual incident," said Fischer. "Nothing like this has happened in decades, so hopefully that will stay that way."
But Bader says raucous crowds of teens terrorize the area almost every weekend once the weather warms up.
"It's not isolated. It's been going on for years," said Bader.
He said the teens usually start in Waterfront Park and work their way south.
"Usually we catch it in time, we'll lock the door," said Bader. "But you have to shut your store down for 35 minutes to an hour, and we lose $300 to $400."
Bader reflects on a night last summer when the teen mob was especially bad. It happened the night of one of downtown's major public events, Thunder Over Louisville.
"All hell just broke loose," said Bader. "We had the VIPER unit, military police here. We had to shut down the store for a good three hours."
Chief Conrad said police always prepare for plenty of disorderly conduct during Thunder, but they are prepared with increased patrols.
"They think they can do what they want," said Bader. "Because all they get is a slap on the wrist."
Police said they are increasing patrols in and around Waterfront Park on weekends and evenings.
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