KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Friday was the first day of a new ban on teens being at Independence Center without their parents during certain hours.
The 3 p.m. curfew was announced before a New Year’s Eve shooting inside the mall.
Last Saturday, up to 500 unaccompanied teens were involved in several fights in the mall. Then New Year’s Eve shoppers described what they called moments of chaos as echoes of gunfire rang out when a 16-year-old boy was shot inside Foot Locker.
“Now we find ourselves in a situation where we’ve got somewhat almost like a mob mentality, and I will tell you its affecting people. People are not shopping here now,” Dennis Cato said.
That’s exactly what both the city and Independence Center are worried about.
After a similar massive mall brawl in October they enacted a 9 p.m. curfew for minors in the shopping district area with a warning to parents they could be ticketed for violations. The 3 p.m. curfew doesn’t carry the same legal ramifications but is designed to keep out potential troublemakers.
“If I’m a high-schooler who is bored sitting at home and there’s nowhere else to go during coronavirus, it sucks that this is one less place that they can go. But I also understand how scary it is to have a situation where someone is shot,” Ricardo Solis said.
Police had an even bigger than normal presence at the mall Friday enforcing the new ban. But some people think it will be difficult to enforce with multiple mall entrances and easy excuses for kids to deliver that their parents are shopping elsewhere.
“What do you when they look like they are underage but might not be? Are you going to card everybody that goes? I think it will be a big transition.” Trish Kobialka wondered.
Cato is in the group that hopes it will work, for the sake of the mall where he and his wife have enjoyed shopping for years.
“We’re not giving up yet, but I’m just sad with the direction its going,” he said.
Mall management has had not made any public statements since Thursday’s shooting. On Friday, Independence police said the teenage shooting victim is recovering. One person was detained, but no one was arrested.