WINSTON SALEM, N.C. – There's now a closer look at what led up to the arrest of three teenagers at Hanes Mall on Saturday night.
Police say there were nearly 100 rowdy teens involved in a disturbance inside the mall and some FOX8 eyewitnesses captured it all on their cellphones.
Police Lieutenant David Rose says officers were outnumbered and forced to take control as they dealt with the huge crowd around 6:37 p.m.
Lt. Rose says the teenagers took things too far when asked to leave.
"Crossed some lines that shouldn't have been crossed," Rose said.
He said the problem began when the teenagers disobeyed strict orders.
"They were in violation of the curfew and Hanes Mall personnel had asked them to leave," Rose said.
The mall's youth escort policy states that from 6 p.m. until close on Friday and Saturday nights, anyone under the age of 18 is expected to leave unless an adult is accompanying them.
Investigators said that didn't happen.
Lt. Rose said chaos broke out when officers tried to take a 16-year-old into custody.
He said during the arrest, nearby teenagers tried to pull him away from police.
That's when pepper spray was then used and the teens ran for cover.
The mayhem for officers only got worse when false rumors hit social media.
Lt. Rose said 911 dispatchers received calls about shots being fired at the mall, but that was never the case.
"It just created this chaos and this panic and paranoia at a scene where none of that was going on," Rose said.
Shoppers on Sunday afternoon say they saw the chaos on social media and were shocked.
"Why is this happening and then I seen it on people's Snapchat and I didn't believe it first, but then I seen it and I was like, ‘oh wow,’" Jordan Clark said.
Officers searched the mall for hours and never found a gun or evidence that shots were fired.
Lt. Rose said they refuse to tolerate disruptive behavior that results into putting others in harm’s way.
"The message we have to send back is that's the reason you're going to the mall, the mall isn't going to tolerate that and if we get called there, you're going to go to jail," Rose said.
The juvenile and two 16-year-olds were arrested. They face charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing.