GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, Long Island is the ninth largest mall in America, and is credited as one of the safest.
But as CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the new food court at the mall was the scene of a raucous weekend skirmish – and it was all caught on cellphone video.
The Gallie family was reliving the frantic brawl at the mall a day later.
“We heard screaming and look back, and we see just like a wall of bodies running at us. It was just a total stampede,” said Meredith Gallie. “I was thinking, how will I get all my kids together so we don’t get trampled to death?’”
It was around 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The possible new dining district at the Roosevelt Field Mall was filled with Mother’s Day shoppers when chaos suddenly erupted.
A 38-second video posted to YouTube shows dozens of people rushing out of harm’s way, as several men land punches and then crack one another over the head with tables and chairs.
It was a free-for-all as families ran for the exits.
“I had my two older kids in my hand while I’m pushing him in the carriage. My husband is holding him, and we’re just running as fast as we could – just trying not to get separated,” Gallie said as she held her youngest son. “And it was very scary. We didn’t know if they were gunshots. We didn’t know if there was a bomb. We thought it was a like terrorist attack.”
All was calm and normal at the mall two days later. But families who were caught up escaping the melee said they were pulled into the panic of the crowd.
“I’m definitely very, very nervous now to go back there,” said Dana Kelly. “It will absolutely affect me? Do I want to go back there and take that kind of chance?”
But Roosevelt Field is ranked as one of the very safest in America, according to Nassau County police. It is also one of the largest.
“I never went there and had a problem, or bumped into an issue at Roosevelt Field Mall,” said Oneika French, who added she will go on shopping there. “Things happen; you can’t base it off of one thing.”
“There is never a reason to panic — just make things worse,” said Thomas Luc. “So try to remain calm, and keep everyone safe.”
Mall security responded and broke up the brawl. The crowd quickly dispersed, and Nassau police made no arrests.
Mall management declined CBS2’s request for an on-camera interview, but they called the altercation “minor” and said Nassau County police are leading the investigation.