Officials: Roseville Galleria evacuated due to flash mob crowd; Mall to reopen Tuesday

1:55 AM, Dec 21, 2010   |    comments
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Video: What is a flash mob?

Video: 'Flash mob' goes on despite Roseville Galleria evacuation

  • Photo from Kyle Dahl
  • Photo from Kyle Dahl
  • Photo from Torrean Tyus

ROSEVILLE, CA - The Westfield Roseville Galleria mall was evacuated Monday night for precautionary reasons after about 5,000 people showed up for a "flash mob" inside the mall, according to a fire official.

PHOTOS: Evacuation crowds at Roseville Galleria
VIDEO: What happened inside during evacuation
VIDEO: "Flash mob" goes on despite evacuation

The incident happened around 7:25 p.m. inside the mall when the huge crowd gathered to perform a spontaneous musical performance of the Hallelujah Chorus.

"We were on our way there and the floor just went, boom. At which point a lot of women kind of yelped and guys were looking at each other, like was that an earthquake," said event participant Aarron Kelly. 

Other witnesses in the food court area heard two loud pops and felt the floor shift, according to Roseville Fire Department spokesman Tom Dodaro. As many as 50 people called 911 to report the emergency.

The entire building was evacuated as fire and police officials worked to determine if the structure was safe. Dodaro said no injuries were reported during the evacuation.

But there were some frayed nerves as people hurried to get out. "People were all up against each other. You couldn't get to the escalator," said Amelia Kalotero, who works at the mall.

"There were people with children, moms with their children who were freaking out, wanting to get out of there. Kinda got a little scary for those people," said mall worker Kimberly Bolton.

Roseville building inspectors examined the mall Monday night and determined it was structurally sound. Westfield officials said the mall would reopen at its normal time of 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Event participant Georgia Fortenberry said there was more publicity than expected. "In Philadelphia and in other places, it's been a little more restrained and not told the whole community. But I think the whole community found out."

A Westfield statement was released following the evacuation:

"The enthusiasm for the Hallelujah event tonight was far greater than anticipated by organizers. Out of an abundance of caution, the center was evacuated. We apologize for this inconvenience. However, the department stores: Sears, Macy's, Nordstrom and JCPenney remain open per their holiday hours. Once cleared by the authorities, the center will resume normal operations."

Despite the evacuation, the "flash mob" group, organized by the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra, still performed Handel's Hallejuah Chorus as a "random act of musical kindness"...just outside of the mall instead.

"Flash mobs" have become popular via Internet with large groups of people randomly performing songs in crowded, public places.

"In most places, they just keep it to themselves so that nobody knows that it's happening," said Fortenberry. "And I think maybe Sacramentan's are much more friendly."


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