Up to this point, details had been sparse with regard to what caused the incident and the number of people involved.
Authorities believe that the 1,000-2,000 number initially reported by mall management and law enforcement is accurate, but stated that the entirety of that group had not participated in causing the unrest.
St. Matthews Police said that the incident was only a culmination of increasing negative activity in the area dating back to October.
"This is not an isolated event...this is a community issue," said SMPD spokesperson Dennis McDonald.
In October, a disturbance call was made from Whole Foods and five juveniles were charged with setting fire to a bus stop. The adjacent Taco Bell made multiple calls complaining of disorderly conduct causing them to close their dining room early. By mid-November, the disturbances had reach a level which required routing extra police presence on Saturday nights.
After prefacing the event with prior problems in the area, police began to detail the incidents of Dec. 26th.
Being a holiday weekend, it was the first Saturday since November that did not have an external police presence at the mall. St. Matthews Special Response Team (SRT) Commander Tony Cobaugh said an officer inside the mall texted him that the crowd, which was the largest he had ever seen there, was beginning to get out of control. At one point, police dispatch received a "10-30 call", meaning an officer was in trouble.
After receiving the call, the SRT was dispatched to the mall. In all, Cobaugh estimates that as many as 65 law enforcement personnel were on the scene from SMPD, Louisville Metro Police and Jeffersontown Police Departments.
Cobaugh said store owners claimed that their employees were crying and customers were scared for their lives due to the events. Detectives canvassed every store after some patrons reported hearing gunshots.
Incidents reported during the Saturday night unrest range from multiple fights and assaults to juveniles throwing bricks and other vandalized property.
SMPD said their investigation into the matter continues, with help from over a dozen stores willing to contribute security cam video.
Additional police units will be assigned to Mall St. Matthews and the surrounding area for New Years Weekend.
When asked what needs to be done moving forward to help stem the growing problem, authorities answered plainly that the mall was a place of business, not a babysitter.
"These are our kids. This is a community issue. We as adults are failing," McDonald said.
Story courtesy of WHAS.com