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Merchant frustrated after uproar at Orange Park Mall

A disturbance at the AMC Theatre forced the closure of Orange Park Mall.
Jacksonville Daily Record
A disturbance at the AMC Theatre forced the closure of Orange Park Mall on Saturday.

At least one merchant at Orange Park Mall is frustrated with young people causing disturbances, including an incident Saturday that closed the mall.

Clay County sheriff’s officers shut down the mall for several hours over what police described as “large groups of juveniles causing disturbances,” the third such chaotic incident at the mall since last summer.

Randy Sheraly manages Watches Plus next to the AMC Theatre, where the disturbance happened. He said he thinks too many parents drop off kids at the mall, especially on weekends.

“I see young people who are all over the place, maybe about 12 years old. You can say it was very, very bad. …There were girls and boys (young age). They were all over the mall and fighting and cursing and all that.”

Sheraly would like to see more security and supervision of younger kids at the mall.  

In a statement Monday, the Sheriff's Office said it would not “allow incidents like this to define who we are as a community.”

One person was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer after the uproar Saturday, although no injured officers were reported. It wasn’t clear whether anyone else was injured.

The theater reopened at 10:30 p.m., with no one under 18 allowed without a parent.

A year ago, fights broke out at a mall carnival, sending crowds scrambling. Then three months later, a fight at the mall was confused for an active shooter situation.

Local officials launched the Gateway to Clay initiative last fall, providing funding for improvements on Blanding Boulevard and Wells Road near the mall. The Sheriff’s Office said crime in the area has decreased since then.

Michelle Corum joined WJCT as "Morning Edition" host in 2012 and has worked in public broadcasting as an announcer and reporter for public radio stations in Lawrence, Kansas, and Interlochen, Michigan. She also manages WJCT's Radio Reading Service for sight-impaired listeners.