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2 Hurt When Thrown Chairs Cause 'Shots Fired' Stampede At Wayne Mall

Detectives were reviewing surveillance video.
Detectives were reviewing surveillance video. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Ron Johnson

WAYNE, N.J. -- Two people were injured in a stampede at the Willowbrook Mall on Sunday after banging noises from people throwing chairs during a fight created the impression that shots were fired, police said.

Nearly two dozen people came running out of the Cheesecake Factory as police responding to a call of a food court fight in progress pulled up just after 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Capt. Laurence W. Martin said Monday.

One woman banged on a police cruiser and shouted: "There’s guys shooting each other inside the mall!”

What really happened, according to Martin:

Two men and a boy got into a fight with another boy and his mother and father.

Two off-duty police officers tried to break it up, but the boy in the first group began throwing chairs, which made loud bangs when they hit the floor.

This caused people to "assume they were gun shots" -- which was made worse by antagonists who, Martin said, "seized the moment to create widespread panic and fear by screaming 'Shots fired!' ”

In the ensuing panic, a woman near Macy's injured her wrist -- and refused medical attention -- while another was hospitalized with undisclosed injuries that the captain said weren't considered life-threatening.

Three men were issued trespassing notices by mall security -- meaning they aren't allowed to return, Martin said.

No one in the fight was injured, he added.

The boy who threw the chairs was taken into custody and turned over to a responsible family member, Martin said.

Meanwhile, Wayne police detectives were reviewing surveillance video to determine who was involved and what charges would be filed.

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