Brawl overblown? Teen disputes Fashion Square claims

snap-fashionA February sunset over Fashion Square.

Two of the bolder allegations in the recent brawl-at-the-mall that temporarily shut down Charlottesville Fashion Square were that brawlers arrived ready to rumble and traveled for that purpose via public transportation. However, a schoolmate of some of the alleged fighters claims the role played by public transportation–- as well as the intentions of the participants–- have been overstated.

"It was never a coordinated show of force," says Federico D. Venegas, a 16-year-old sophomore at Charlottesville High School, who says he found no evidence of any premeditation. Instead, Venegas contends that what happened around 7:30pm on March 5 was more like the fighting of yesteryear.

"A couple of kids got mad at another couple of kids," says Venegas. "Someone says, 'I have a beef with you,' and somebody says, 'Let's take it outside.' And everybody followed them out."

Indeed, the students did take it outside, but Venegas also finds the portrayals of 100 people fighting, such as that asserted by NBC29, overblown. Venegas contends that the whole altercation–- including spectators–-  probably numbered 30 to 40, a range close to the 30 to 50 cited by Albemarle County Police Corporal Ken Richardson.

Within a day of the incident, Mall management released a statement claiming that students arrived via public transportation, and mall manager Karen Weiner claimed in a Daily Progress interview that the whole thing was pre-planned on unnamed social networking sites. Citing an ongoing police investigation, Weiner declined to respond to the debunking offered by Venegas.

Venegas, who was present for the incident, says he determined that the involved students hailed from CHS, Monticello High, and Albemarle High. And as for any in-mall commotion, Venegas says that was the result of revved-up students fleeing back inside when a swarm of police cars rolled up outside.

"I go to school with about five of these kids," says Venegas, who says he interviewed them to find out why they fought. The most disturbing thing Venegas says he learned was that a bystander, a man getting out of his car, was attacked; and Venegas asked a classmate why.

"I don't know," the pugilistic classmate allegedly replied, offering a cryptic, "There can't be no reasons no more."

As for the public transportation, Venegas believes that the fare-free cards that Charlottesville Transit Services offers CHS students probably helped about a third of the CHS students reach the mall–- with the rest carpooling there.

"It's not some great migration," says Venegas. "They just find a way to meet people."

So he finds the image of a busload of thugs piling into a CTS bus–- something that might have been inferred from the mall management allegations–- a little far-fetched. "Maybe five, maybe 10, or even 15 at once," says Venegas, "but nowhere near the capacity of the bus."

Police have not announced any arrests stemming from the incident; and Albemarle Sergeant Linda Jenkins, recently assigned to investigate, was not available by posting time.


Annoyed Gas? Really? Racist hypocrisy coming from you doesn't even surprised me let alone "annoy" me. What would annoy me would be if you were still carrying a badge while advocating breaking the law.

Maybe the cops can follow the kids around with a DB meter to make sure they don't violate the new sound ordanince.

Now we agree, gman. While other media outlets report on crime offering up 25 different lame excuses from psychiatrists, cop shoppe chiefs and sheriffs as to why juveniles misbehave, The Hook went right to the horse's mouth and got the truth.

As reported by The Hook above, there hasn't got to be a reason any longer. The little juvenile wannabe thugs terrorize, assault and vandalize just for the sport of it.

Let a few of these wannabe thugs ââ?¬Å?slip and fall” on the bricks.
With all of these phone cameras and flip cameras about? Millions!

Because 30 dudes fightin' is soooooo much better than 100 dudes fightin'.

I agree. Even though I have always been quite outspoken about "street justice" being dished out by cops, this is one case where it's probably warranted. Let a few of these wannabe thugs "slip and fall" on the bricks. Mommy and/or daddy can pick the wannabe thugs up at the Emergency Room.

I always thought this incident was overblown by the media. In a way, it does reflect the new paranoia and fear, as Nancy notes. But it also reflects the old, insular way of thinking that a bunch of non-white kids are inscrutably different from a bunch of white kids. They aren't. They're kids that got into a fight.

People's reaction to this age-old story says more about the people than about the kids.

If some innocent man was attacked outside for no reason whatsoever, the incident has not been blown out of proportion.... doesn't matter if 30 punks were involved or 100 punks.

You see the "mall slug" mentality above, why was the man attacked? And the answer was, "There can’t be no reasons no more.”

Maybe the recent "discussions on race" need to be discussions on lack of parenting and taking control of kids AT HOME. It goes back years. No daddy, black OR white. Momma a druggie, black OR white. NO control at all. But there are also a lot of hard working folks in a bad economic or domestic situation, black OR white, that don't allow themselves or their children to run amok. We just don't see them on the news do we?

The mall back in the 80s was nothing BUT thugs after dark. A real ghost town. The sob sisters in the City tie the hands of their police force to REALLY deal with REAL problems in a manner that sadly a few only comprehend. Act the fool, get your butt busted. I realize that's a slippery slope and don't condone police MIS treatment but the fact remains that some folks need an attention getter. Roving gangs of thugs come under that umbrella I would say.

The mall slugs might be the same bunch who took over the downtown mall on Friday night. Every 15 minutes the cop shoppe was getting calls from the mall about a small group of wannabe thugs terrorizing the mall patrons, assaults, vandalisms in progress, etc...

10:51 p.m., as I type this, The Nook just called about a guy having a gun in his pants, which of course is not a crime as long if it isn't concealed. And legal concealed if he has a permit. But anyhow, the 911 call said there was a large group of the wannabe thugs hanging around with him or near him. The employees were afraid to leave the business and called the cop shoppe.

About 10:00 p.m. as I was crossing the mall in a vehicle, a little white punk asked for a ride. I said NO. He said he was going to break my car windows later. I stopped, put the car in park, and told him, "Why wait? Do it now, punk!" He kept on huffing and puffing under his breath to impress his friends & associates. But when I kept sitting there and went to open my car door, he took off running.

It's going to be a long hot summer downtown on the mall. The cop shoppes have totally lost control of this city and county to the teen punks.

Gasbag.....would be very interesting if the "innocent man" were to be legally carrying- regardless of Simons "rules".

City Council and the cop shoppe need to come up with a solution. Somebody going to get killed on the mall this summer if they don't nip it in the bud real quick.

Or, the simplest solution, about 25 adult males get together and start a COP (Citizens On Patrol) unit to patrol the mall themselves if the cop shoppe can't get things under control. These little punks will go elsewhere when and if they have to come face to face with a worthy opponent.

Gasbag Self Ordained Expert - I love the idea of citizens getting together and providing some security at the mall and your point about some parents picking their kids up from the police station and then making excuses for the kids and blaming the cops is sadly so true. Maybe a group of citizens can meet the parents and kids as they leave the police station and ask the parent why they're not holding themselves or their kids accountable for their actions. If my dad had to come and get me from the police station when I was a teen I would have begged the cops to keep me locked in a cell where my dad couldn't get me....many kids these days are wonderful, the majority are respectful, positive and friendly. The other sad part of culture is to report so much on the bad....let's look at way's to hold the parents of those children accountable. kids learn from their parents and will do what they can get away with.

hahaha, ok a sixteen year old reported for the hook, no wonder they won a journo prize, they are good they are good

" Venegas contends that what happened around 7:30pm on March 5 was more like the fighting of yesteryear." --even though teens may not have changed our nation has -we are now living with a post Columbine, post Va. Tech, post 9/11 mentality, and the memory of fisticuffs of yesteryear has been left behind, when responding to teen brawls, no matter where they take place.

Hello, Cup Cake. 1:51 a.m.? WTF? You having trouble sleeping?

How exactly is discussing little wannabe thugs considered racist? They come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. The only little wannabe thug I personally witnessed causing problems on the downtown mall Friday night was a skinny little white kid. He thought he was going to show off for all his little white friends. I don't know what color, shape or size the wannabe thugs were in the other incidents dispatched by 911.

I have advocated breaking what law? Street justice? OK, I am from the old school. Where parents disciplined their children with leather belts. And I thank my parents every day of my life. Because of them, I grew up drug and alcohol free with no law enforcement detention or criminal arrest whatsoever. Nowadays parents pick their juvenile brats up at the police station, kiss and hug them, and ask what that big old bad policeman did to them! So yes, maybe the cops need to discipline these brats since the parents won't. If that is advocating breaking a law, I am guilty. :)

Since we are basically talking about kids who have no respect for the law whatsoever, let me tell you what really annoys me. You might recall my speaking of handing a nice free easy arrest to a cop a few weeks ago. Revoked driver's license, no insurance, stolen license plates. I told one of seven cops present at the time that the kid will be out in 15 to 20 minutes, get in that vehicle (pointing it out for him), and drive off. The cop did not hang around out of sight, the cop did nothing. So fast forward to this past Saturday afternoon. The same kid drove a motorcycle headon into another car at 90 mph. He is in the hospital right now on life support, portions of his skull removed so the brain can swell, and he has had his right arm removed. His 2 young children have no idea what has happened or what is going on. If the cops had dealt with this a few weeks back when I asked them to, like they should have, he might not be where he's right now. I wanted so badly to get this kid off the public highways, but the cops would not do their job.

Federico D ,keep the good work.

In addition to the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney in both the city and county, I think it's fair to say that NBC29 is a loyal lap dog to any and all departments in city or county government. They don't bite the hands that feed them informaton day after day. I have watched them take press releases full of lies from the city cop shoppe and the county cop shoppe and publish every false word contained in them.

Then, if a media outlet like The Hook explores the other side of the story, all The Hook is able to report is "so and so would not return our call by press time". The public receives only what the city or county government wants them to hear.

Why should we believe that the mall is to blame for this getting out of hand? I don't think it's unreasonable to start by blaming the "kids", their corrupt culture, and the parents who "raised" them.

Steve, a group of "them" came after me and my family a few months ago. Not the first time here, either (and more such experiences growing up back in my original hometown - I do believe I'm starting to see a pattern). Seriously, (dishonest/misguided bleeding hearts aside) what can be done? Is there sufficient will to see it be done?

Thanks, Steve. I'm not naiive, far from it, and I agree that the city is on borrowed time with this issue.

However, I disagree that things are different than they ever were. I have personally witnessed this business going back to the mid 60's. The fear and apprehension that is rising in me is mixed with resentment, especially now that I am a parent and my own children are at risk. Being a parent adds another level of indignation when you watch the fruit of others' loins creating a world of horrors to play in.

I was at Festival of the Book today. They were not there. I was at the Saturday enrichment program at UVa last winter - I elected to enroll my child in a course of his choosing - they weren't there either. imo, They are not falling behind in school, they are falling behind at home. Who are these parents? We have a right to know.

I've had some crackers in my family. I didn't know that they blog.

Ohh, thanks! That sure throws a monkey wrench in the plans, doesn't it? :)

So Steve reveals his true "colors." Yeah, these " wannabe thugs" are different and the law doesn't apply. Neither do often repeated suggestions to arm yourself with a gun it seems. What a freaking hypocrite.

Kids will be kids --what's changed , more guns, and as I said at the beginning, thanks to the constant barrage of violent images that Americans digest on a daily basis --the national consciousness has changed. We have become a country fraught with fear and apprehension, looking for a mountain lion behind every stop sign.

Yes indeed kids are begging for limits to be set for them. Time for adults to set them. I assure you being one of these youth not long ago a few smack downs will quiet some of this. But also this is not new Charlottesville has always had this scene, there are just more yuppies moved in not used to dealing with it. But yes when a kid gets killed by some person legally carrying a gun it will be too late.

indignation and alarm

Ohh my! I annoyed CC again! My Bad!

But yes, when you have a band of little teenage wannabe thugs who feel the law doesn't apply to them as they terrorize people in the malls (downtown and Fashion Square), vandalize property (downtown), being disorderly and scaring customers out of a restaurant (McDonalds), and assaulting innocent citizens stepping out of their cars for no good reason whatsoever (Fasion Square)... what's good for the goose ya know.

Not sure how you read anything I said as anti-gun. I said a small group of wannabe thugs were near or with the armed man on the mall. The report to the cop shoppe, as dispatched, didn't make it real clear what was going on with the man with the gun on the downtown mall. Were the little wannabe thugs with him? Were the little wannabe thugs surrounding him or engaging in a confrontation with him?

Trust me, Cup Cake, you won't ever catch me advocating any type of gun control unless a person can't legally purchase or possess a firearm.

Harry, I'm not sure what the firearms policy is in the Fashion Square Mall. Have they banned firearms? Another interesting point, if a dozen little wannabe thugs attack an armed cop in Fashion Square, it will be ruled as "justified" if the cop has to shoot one of them. If this shopper, a/k/a innocent citizen does the same, he WILL be charged by the commonwealth attorney and face a $75,000 to $100,000 bill in defense fees at trial.

GSOE hit it right on the head. What happens if an armed citizen is attacked while getting out of their car? Denise Lunford charges them with a hate crime, no doubt. I don't see the prosecutors office making any effort to uncover the truth, and NBC29, her loyal lap dog, reports few facts. I am not surprised that a 16 year old student did a superior job of investigative reporting than the staff at NBC29. His uncovering of the quote,"there can't be no reasons no more", is remarkable in its power to explain the real problem, total hopeless ignorance. If they understand nothing else, make them understand that a teenager charged, convicted, and incarcerated as an adult is a real possibility. Get rid of Denise Lunford and her band of politically correct closet cases, hire someone to rebuild that office with people who understand the dangers these thugs really represent, and know how to investigate gang activity. Otherwise, like so many other cities and their suburbs, C-ville will became a wasteland of what could have been, meanwhile, I'll be shopping in Short Pump.

Ahh, the wonderful benefits of diversity and illegal immigration.
PC forever and kumbaya!

So, a dustup between a couple of teens gets reported by police and news media as a 100 student riot.


Went by the mall the other day--didn't LOOK like a riot had occured.

BTW, It's still dinky.

We're really reporting what some 16 year old kid "researched and interviewed"? so much for journalistic standards

Wow. NBC29 blew a story out of proportion? Shocking.

But really, my wife was in the mall at about 7 p.m. on the night this occurred and she said she had to walk past 25-30 young guys standing in groups of 4 or 5, screaming at each other across the mall. Obviously, 100 people weren't fighting. I didn't buy that for a minute. But to say it was just a dust-up between a couple of kids and was a "boys will be boys" situation isn't accurate either.

Did I mention McDonalds Ridge/McIntire, manager had to call the cop shop when two dozen punks entered raising cain and was scaring off other customers?

This is cville save the whales save the trees and save the poor black kids and the mall please what a dump everyone goes to short pump to shop

re:"We’re really reporting what some 16 year old kid ââ?¬Å?researched and interviewed”? so much for journalistic standards"

Why not? Prior to this, the media was simply parroting what some "mall official" stated.

Somebody has to do some research and interviews of those involved to get the whole story, wouldn't you think? If the local media is afraid to approach these teenagers for whatever reason, why not hire a stringer? Sounds like the kid that was the source for this info has a good head on his shoulders.

It sounds more and more like people just don't want to accept the fact that these kids are not so different than the average reader of the hook were at that age.

They got into a little fisticuffs, the cops came so they ran inside. If mall security were able to handle the situation properly, most likely the kids would have just left. Instead, because the mall security overreacted and called the police, the kids went inside and caused some damage and scared some shoppers.

Now we'll hear how "procedures were followed correctly" at the mall and that there was no way the situation could have been handled better by mall personnel.

Maybe it says more about the culprits after all?

Let's see.GBSOE on the side of the police when the little so and sos annoy HIM then he will constantly lambast the very same departments time and again. VERY interesting. In the meantime City "leaders" let your cops be f***in COPS. Even in European cities that are otherwise very liberal such as Amsterdam, the police WILL take care of civil disorder and QUICKLY. Been there and seen that.

Funny thing about the cops that are supposed to be patrolling the mall. For starters, they're peddling around on bicycles. How effective are cops on bicycles? Doesn't seem very threatening or effective to me. No wonder thugs run around terrorizing retailers and their customers. And second, these mall cops on bicycles don't always seem to be doing their job. Somebody I know once reported to me that they witnessed a mall bike cop hanginging out at Cafe Cubano for well over two hours, in uniform, not patrolling. One Friday night last fall my boyfriend and I were on the mall when some crazy religious zealots were in Central Place standing on the benches, screaming their lungs out at everybody for being sinners and such. Passersby were screaming back, and you could hear this ruckus up and down the entire mall. **Where were the little peddling bicycle cops?** Nowhere to be found.

I'm not asking for a police state, or problem-reaction-solution. But I do wonder why thugs and crazies are allowed to run rampant like that.

*hanging, not hanginging

This is why there larger malls have policies that prohibit kids under 18 unless accompanied by their parents during certain restricted hours. Who wants to shop with unruly kids who are simply causing problems and not even spending money. I would rather buy online than shop with them.