City Spirit Spoiled After Free-For-All - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

City Spirit Spoiled After Free-For-All

CLEVELAND – The city of Cleveland wanted people to come downtown this weekend and relax. Instead, some ended up fearing for their lives, Action News' Ed Gallek reported.

City brass called it Free Spirit Weekend to draw people back downtown, but a free-for-all left some people afraid to ever come back.

Also, an Action News investigation found that violence is nothing new in and around Tower City.

Police horses had to help break up a mob when free movie passes ran out and thousands of teens and young adults started fighting.

"They were fighting and somebody said they had a gun," one witness said. "They fought like two times.

"We heard 'pop, pop, pop' and people were running from the food court screaming."

In the middle of the mob were a Lorain County man, his wife and their 18-month-old twins. The family was so scared and angry that they fired off an e-mail to the mayor with the message they wouldn't be back.

"We had planned to come back Sunday to the Gund, but after this, we decided not too," the man said. "It's going to be a long time (before we come back)."

Police said that they had no way to predict trouble. They don't believe gunshots were fired as some witnesses have suggested. Only three people were arrested.

One woman, however, told police that a teen punched her in the head as she walked through the mall.

After some digging, Action News found that there have been dozens of assaults in and around Tower City over a 10-month period. Plus, Action News has reported dozens of suspected gang assaults in the heart of downtown in recent months, including a murder.

"They had no intelligence brought to their attention alerting them there would be any problems at Tower City," Cleveland Police Sgt. Jacqueline Lewis said. "There's no reason to believe the problems inside Tower City are somehow gang-related.

"I think there was plenty of security downtown."

Tower City officials refused to comment to Action News for this story.

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