CAMBRIDGE — A chaotic scene broke out Monday night at the CambridgeSide Galleria mall when a large, young crowd that had gathered to meet a Boston Celtics player and a rap artist became unruly and was evacuated, officials said.
More than 1,000 people were forced to leave the mall after the disturbance broke out around 5:50 p.m., and police had to use pepper spray to control the crowd, according to Cambridge and State Police. The crowd had converged on Champs Sports on the third floor of the mall to meet Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown and the rapper Desiigner.
“The ticketed event was disrupted when a large contingent of attendees surged forward, knocking over barriers and individuals waiting in line,” Cambridge police said in a statement.
“Officers were targeted with glass, bricks and other objects while dispersing the crowd outside of the Galleria, however no injuries were sustained by the officers,” the statement said. “Select attendees were treated after being exposed to OC [pepper] spray, which was used by police to manage and disperse the crowd inside the mall after the crowds grew more aggressive.”
David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said the disturbance began inside the mall and then spilled outside. He said the crowd was “getting combative and hostile” when Cambridge police called them for assistance.
Six juveniles, four males and two females, were arrested.
Andrielle Jicinto, 25, an employee at another third-floor store, described a frightening scene.
Young people were running up and down the hallway, including one girl who shouted “[expletive] the police!” she said.
“I just saw people running,” Jicinto said. “I was really scared, because I didn’t know what was happening. It’s all teenagers yelling.”
Fashion blogger Vunnie Thou said the crowd grew rowdy after an 11-year-old girl was pepper sprayed.
“It was wild,” said Thou, 20, of Lynn.
Thou, who was with his 15-year-old brother, said they both had to run to avoid being trampled by the crowd.
“There were so many people knocking down signs and stealing stuff,” he said. “I didn’t want to lose him. We had to run with the crowd.”
One attendee said that he went to get a closer look at the crowd after he heard “everyone going nuts.”
“We saw the mall security pulling a kid from the crowd, and he apparently got pepper sprayed cause he was absolutely losing it,” said a 19-year-old from Boston who would only provide his first name, Erich. “We went down to Best Buy and saw 20 cops run in, some in riot gear.”
Erich said he and a friend went to the mall’s food court, where they saw people standing on tables, “freaking out” and “marching in a circle.”
Champs Sports was deserted shortly after 8 p.m., except for a security guard who declined to comment. Mannequins sporting Celtics tee-shirts with Brown’s No. 7 were visible in the display window.
The athlete said later Monday night via Twitter that he had not made it inside the mall before the evacuation.
“Police shut it down we here tho,” Brown tweeted.
Desiigner had tweeted out “MEET ME IN BOSTON” earlier Monday and later retweeted video clips of the crowd that news outlets posted. He did not comment directly on the evacuation on social media.