JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Five people are in custody after a huge fight outside a Jacksonville movie theater on Christmas Day.
The incident started around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night, according to a release from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, when an officer working off duty in the 13100 block of City Station Drive at the Regal River City Marketplace Stadium 14 was rushed by a group of juveniles and young adults allegedly trying to force their way into a movie. The officer used pepper spray to keep the crowd out and the people inside the theater safe.
It appeared the group then fled the scene. At that same time fighting erupted outside the theater, escalating quickly and the group in the parking lot grew to approximately 600 people, according to officers working the scene. The crowd appeared to be mostly unsupervised juveniles and young adults who were not patrons of the theater, the release detailed. The individuals involved were reportedly beating each other up and jumping on cars.
On scene, Lauri-Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, said damage to cars was visible. Smith stated officers had to use crowd control methods to stop the violence, but did not offer specific details. "You've got these officers doing what they do tactically to separate, keep safe, sequester. Then determine who's responsible," she said on the scene.
According to JSO, about 62 officers responded over the course of the hour and a half long incident separating groups of youth and providing safety for those who may have been caught up in the melee. A safe zone was also established for parents and families to reunite with their children.
No serious injuries were reported and no reports of gunshots occurred. Smith said the investigation is ongoing.
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