KANSAS CITY — Students from throughout the Kansas City area used Twitter and Facebook to plan an "unruly gathering" that sent hundreds of rowdy teens to an upscale shopping district of Kansas City on Saturday evening, Kansas City police said Monday.
Police used pepper spray to break up disturbances in the city's Country Club Plaza shopping district, whose Mediterranean style architecture, sidewalk cafes and upscale stores make it a main destination in the city. Polcie siad 500 to 1,000 students converged on the area.
At least one person suffered a serious head injury in the parking lot of restaurant in the city's Country Club Plaza district and fights broke out throughout Saturday night. At least one strong-arm robbery was reported and there were several reports of property damage.
“Unfortunately there were people who knew about it but didn’t call us until after it was over,” police spokesman Darin Snapp said.
The gathering was definitely planned, not random, Snapp said. Officers emptied several fire-extinguisher-sized pepper spray canisters and more than a dozen hand-held canisters to break up the crowd. The incidents drove thousands of other customers away from the area in a "mass exit" about 10 p.m., police said.
Police officials said they were forming a detailed plan to deal with possible crowds this weekend.
On Saturday, the department sent 21 additional officers to the Plaza at about 6 p.m. to break up any gatherings of youths before they got too big. But as the night went on, the crowd of youths swelled to as many as 900 at 9 p.m. and police were quickly outnumbered. Police said some in the crowd were as young as 11 years old.
Fights broke out, youths ran down the streets, and groups blocked entrances and exits to businesses, police said. A 16-year-old girl suffered abrasions when she was run over by one group. Another girl, dressed for prom, was shoved into a fountain. A couple was robbed by about a dozen youths in a parking garage.
People could not walk down the sidewalk and traffic could not flow because of the crowds. A horse carriage ride that operates on the Plaza had to shut down. Police found a knife on the ground in the middle of one disturbance.
Police said a large fight broke out in the parking lot of the Winstead's fastfood restaurant and officers found a youth lying on the asphalt with serious head injuries. The restaurant closed early.
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