Lynnhaven Mall to require adult supervision for young visitors after recent spate of violence

Jane Harper, The Virginian-Pilot

After several incidents involving youth behaving violently at Lynnhaven Mall recently, the shopping center announced Tuesday that young people must now have a chaperone on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The new policy will require that guests under the age of 18 be chaperoned by a parent or other adult who is at least 21 after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The decision comes just three days after the Virginia Beach mall closed early due to multiple fights that broke out in the food court area and then spilled outside. Videos of the incidents have been circulating on social media since Sunday and show that many of those involved were girls.

“Providing an environment where everyone feels comfortable is paramount,” the mall’s Senior General Manager Michael Harris said in a news release. “We want to be clear that all are welcome at Lynnhaven Mall and at any time. We simply require that during certain times, families shop together.”

Lynnhaven’s new policy is closely aligned to ones already enforced at Greenbrier Mall in Chesapeake and MacArthur Center Mall in Norfolk.

MacArthur’s rule — in place since 2009 — prevents unaccompanied youths from being there after 5 p.m. every day of the week. Greenbrier has required guests under 18 to be chaperoned after 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays since 2015.

Problems with teens getting into trouble at Lynnhaven Mall have been common for some time, said Virginia Beach police spokeswoman Linda Kuehn, including two recently publicized ones.

On Nov. 7, two groups of young people got into a confrontation there and were escorted out by security, according to police. They got into a physical fight outside and shots were fired by one group. Three teenage boys, all from Chesapeake, were seriously injured. Two were 15, the other 16.

On Dec. 14, a Virginia Beach police officer at the mall was alerted to a 15-year-old boy carrying a loaded weapon, Kuehn said. The teen ran when officers approached, but was apprehended after a brief foot pursuit, she said. He was charged with carrying a loaded weapon in a public place and being a juvenile in possession of a firearm.

Security officers will be stationed at the mall’s entrances during curfew hours to check IDs of visitors who appear younger than 18, the news release said.

Those without a valid photo ID showing they’re of age will have to be accompanied by a parent or supervising adult. One adult may accompany up to four youths and must remain with them at all times.

Those with proper identification will be offered an optional wristband. If they choose not to wear the wristband, they may be asked for ID inside the shopping center. Valid identification can be a state issued driver’s license or ID card, a military ID, a school ID card, or a passport. The identification must have a photograph and date of birth.

Announcements will be made inside the mall starting at 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, giving young people time to complete their shopping or dining before the curfew begins. After 4 p.m. security officers will begin checking IDs for those without wristbands who appear underage.

Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, jane.harper@pilotonline.com