WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said Monday his office will help provide security at Hanes Mall following a reported assault by a group of juveniles over the weekend.
According to a Winston-Salem Police Department news release, the assault happened outside the TGIFridays when a Greensboro couple was picking up their daughter.
One of the victims, LaTina Melton said her boyfriend’s daughter was being threatened by a group of juveniles. She said she was talking with several of the teens when they began hitting her and her boyfriend.
“Next thing I know I was being hit from my left side and it just went from there,” Melton said Sunday, describing the fight. “This whole situation could have went a whole different way and it didn’t have to escalate to that. I’m lost for words, I’m mad, I’m upset. I am really upset.”
Kimbrough watched a widely-shared video of the assault posted to social media and decided to take action.
“That was somebody’s mother laying there on the pavement being beaten and kicked, somebody’s father,” he said. “Let’s say that situation turned from someone taking a pocketbook and beating someone to now shots fired, there’s several people in this community that carry firearms. A bullet does not have eyes, it does not.”
Starting Thursday, off-duty deputies will provide security for the mall through the holidays. Hanes Mall is currently patrolled by the Winston-Salem Police Department, but Kimbrough said his office has a duty to the county and city.
“Having a presence out there, it would stop someone thinking about doing something like that,” he said. “By calming the situation down, by having dialogue by being present out there and right now I think that is necessary.”
The fight comes one week after a shooting that injured a juvenile outside Hanes Mall.
“A bullet does not have eyes, it does not, once it leaves the barrel its on a direct target anything in its path to destroy. And so to prevent that we have to be present, we have to be mindful, we have to be in the moment,” Kimbrough said.
In a statement, a spokesperson said the mall’s Youth Escort Policy has been updated. Shoppers under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult daily after 3 p.m., and all day Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Police have not made any arrests following the assault but said the suspects are between 15-20 years old.