Video of Austin mall riot shows punches, unruly crowd


by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and Photojournalist JP HARRINGTON

Posted on October 29, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 9:04 AM

AUSTIN, Texas -- The video from the air tells the tale: A crowd of people outside Highland Mall Saturday night refusing to the leave the scene. They refused even as an Austin Police Department helicopter followed from above, and as many as 30 officers reacted on the ground.

According to police some people in the crowd of 200 even started throwing rocks at officers. From above punches were captured on camera.

Around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, a crowd of more than 200 people became confrontational outside the House of Torment haunted attraction.

Police say people were throwing rocks and ignoring officers' commands to leave. They also reportedly refused to back away from police who were dealing with fights. Those brawls spanned from Highland Mall Boulevard around the parking lot to Airport Boulevard.

“Okay they've got a fight going on right now. Multiple subjects, they're all gathering up,” said an officer in APD’s Air One helicopter to officers on the ground.

Austin-Travis County EMS treated a total of seven people for assault and crowd-related injuries. One of those people was a police officer.

“People get in big crowds like that and sometimes get out of control,” said Cpl. David Boyd with the Austin Police Department.

Five people were arrested, including four adults and one juvenile.

Boyd says they normally have a special crowd management team to prepare for large and potentially unruly crowds.

“We weren't expecting anything, so we didn't have the team on standby ready to be deployed at any time."

First responders say they still aren't sure what started the riot, but police say on Halloween they'll be ready just in case.

APD’s team is usually downtown for Halloween, but the North Austin commander is looking into staffing extra officers near the Highland Mall and the House of Torment.