'Fight Club' Outside Atlantic Center Mall Eyed by NYPD
FORT GREENE — A corner behind Atlantic Center Mall is home to an organized "fight club" in which dozens of kids gather for daytime brawls organized on social media — including one recently where someone fired a gun, according to police and residents.
Hanson Place and South Elliott Place — at the northeast corner of the complex that includes a Burlington Coat Factory and OfficeMax — has been the site of fights between as many as 30 teens for almost a year, resident Stephanie Seto said.
Police are closely monitoring the fights organized on Facebook and other social media, and the mall is working with police to stem the violence.
Seto, who has lived near the corner the past 16 years, said she has become increasingly concerned that the fights and the number of teenagers swarming the streets from 3 to 5 p.m. have escalated in recent months.
"It's like watching 'Fight Club' the movie with two kids getting ready to fight and a circle around them," she said, referring to the 1999 Brad Pitt film.
88th Precinct commanding officer Capt. Peter Fiorillo said officers are trying to thwart the fights.
"Fight club is organized by kids on Facebook and Twitter, and then they get in a circle and they fight. And where they like to fight is by the mall," Fiorillo said. "But then someone brought a gun to the fight and shots were fired."
"Fortunately no one was hit," Fiorillo said about the 5 p.m. shooting Friday, April 18. No arrests were made.
Kylie DeTemple, who works at a clothing store one block from the mall, heard the shots and witnessed teenagers running.
"One kid was being chased and then shots were fired," she said.
DeTemple has witnessed several fights in the year she has worked near the Atlantic Center Mall.
"I hear arguing and then they turn down the corner," she said. "Last Sunday I was curious and I peeked and saw two older kids beating the pulp out of a younger kid."
It was not clear how many fights there have been and the extent of the injuries incurred.
The 88th Precinct and nearby 77th and 78th precincts are collaborating to stop the fights, the commanding officer said.
"We'll hear word of a fight and we'll follow them all day until they get to the trains and head home," he said. "When we get intelligence that something big is about to happen, we deploy there."
It was not clear how many times police have been broken up the fights.
A spokesman for Forest City Ratner Companies, which owns Atlantic Center, said they were aware of the situation and are working closely with the NYPD to monitor it.