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Fight causes panic among Black Friday shoppers at Annapolis mall

A fight in the food court of Westfield Annapolis Mall caused panic among Black Friday shoppers as rumors of a shooting — which police said were false — spread quickly on social media.

Those involved in the fight about 4 p.m. Friday overturned tables, causing a loud bang, said Lt. T.J. Smith, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Police Department. He said people thought the noise was gunfire.

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"There was glass breaking, along with this big boom, along with people scattering," Smith said.

Shoppers said on social media they were taking shelter amid rumors of a shooting at the center. But police quickly determined that no shots had been fired.

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Some people in the food court were detained when officers arrived, but police determined they were victims in the altercation, Smith said.

A 15-year-old girl was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, but she wasn't directly part of the fight, he said.

Smith said police held an active-shooter drill at the mall this summer, and merchants followed protocol Friday by having patrons shelter in place.

People were told to stay where they were for about 15 to 20 minutes, Smith said. The mall then resumed normal operations.

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On Twitter, County Executive Laura Neuman said she was at the mall when the fight occurred, and she praised the work of county police.

"I was in mall on lockdown and they had everything under control in minutes," she tweeted.

Mall managers could not be reached for comment.

Police asked anyone with video, pictures or information about suspects in the fight to call 410-222-1961 or email tips@aacounty.org.

twitter.com/aliknez

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