A brawl broke out at a carnival in the parking lot of Northtown Mall on Saturday night when Blaine police officers saw dozens of juveniles fighting on and around the Ferris wheel before 100 kids rushed into the mall, causing it to go into lockdown.
Police were called to the carnival around 8:30 p.m. on reports of 30 juveniles gathering near the Ferris wheel threatening to fight one another. Police Capt. Mark Boerboom said in a phone interview Sunday that he spoke with the carnival's organizer on Friday about some "tension" at the carnival, an annual event in Blaine for the past 25 years.
"He sensed some tension on Friday and it carried over from last night. I'm not sure what happened but it came to a boil last night with this large group," he said.
The first officer on the scene, who is assigned to the mall, saw kids physically fighting while riding on the Ferris wheel. Boerboom said the officer was outnumbered while trying to break up the fights and the crowd began to scatter.
About 100 juveniles ran into the mall, entering through the Burlington Coat Factory store. The mall then went into lockdown and closed for the evening.
One officer believed he heard gunshots outside at one point, Boerboom said, prompting officials with the Anoka County Sheriff's Office and Minnesota State Patrol to provide emergency backup, as well as other surrounding agencies from Lino Lakes, Fridley and Coon Rapids. But there was no confirmation that shots were actually fired.
Large groups of juveniles refused to leave, so officers declared an unlawful assembly and ordered everyone to clear out. Boerboom said many of those involved didn't have rides home because they were dropped off. Crowds dispersed by 10 p.m.
Boerboom said no arrests were made and one juvenile was treated for minor injuries.
Gopher State Expositions Inc., carnival organizers based in St. Cloud, are working with Blaine police to provide additional security measures.
Boerboom said the carnival will close at 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. and two officers were hired to work Sunday night. Officials are discussing what the police presence will look like for the remainder of the carnival, which runs through May 22.
"It's unfortunate," he said. "A lot of families were there last night. It's set up to cater to families. For 25 years, they have been putting this on for families to enjoy, and this is putting a damper on that."
Randy Forcier, with Gopher State, said in a message to the Star Tribune that they are increasing security at the carnival after shutting down early on Saturday out of "caution of safety."