NBA All-Star weekend crowds cause mall shut down www.privateofficer.com
HOUSTON TX Feb 18 2013 — NBA All-Star weekend brought huge crowds to Houston.
Police and Houston Galleria Mall officials say they expected it to be busy, but the size of Saturday night’s crowd caused concern and ended up prompting officials to close the mall early.
Cell phone video and photos sent in to ABC13 by mall customers show the Galleria packed to the gills Saturday night.
A special police unit was called out to break up the sea of people that was eventually dispersed shortly after 8pm, an hour before the mall normally closes.
It was hard to get through to stores,” customer Natasha Pearl said. “It was so crowded, it was impossible to get through.”
Sunday, customers reacted to the news.
“I think, obviously, if they had an issue with security, they need to keep all their patrons safe,” shopper Damario Solomon-Simmons said.
No one with the Galleria would speak with us on camera, but the mall did release a statement, not directly addressing last night’s incident, but saying that mall staff would do whatever necessary to maintain a safe environment inside the mall.
“I think they should have been better prepared,” Shalisha Horton said. “They knew that it was going to be a lot of people out here, and I don’t think they should have had as many events inside the Galleria as they did.”
Houston police said customers would continue to see a stepped-up police presence at the mall through Sunday night.
Some customers Saturday admitted they were there hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity.
“That’s why all those people were in there, for the All-Star weekend,” mall store employee Evan Whipke said. “To see Kobe, LeBron, whoever’s in there.”
In the mall statement, the Galleria’s general manager said he expected another busy day Sunday and that security and police presence would be adjusted accordingly.