This post has been updated.
Multiple students were hurt and businesses had to close Friday evening due to a “flash mob” of nearly 200 minors that flocked North Broad Street near Main Campus, police said.
Two Temple Police officers sustained injuries in altercations with minors. They were not seriously injured and are recovering, one from a fractured hand. One juvenile punched a Philadelphia Police horse in the face, but the horse is OK, Charlie Leone, the director of Campus Safety Services wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Temple Police arrested four minors in three different incidents, Leone said. Two were arrested for assault, while the other two were arrested for robbery. Seven total reports of assault and robbery were filed that night.
An Instagram post for a “Pearl Theater Meetup” incited the minors to gather along Broad Street. The meetup spread through social media, telling them to see “Ouija: Origin of Evil” at AMC 7 on Broad and Oxford streets at 6:45 p.m.
Throughout the evening, the minors split into smaller groups — some committed assaults or robberies and ran from police — between Jefferson and Norris streets and between Broad and 17th streets, Leone wrote in an email to students Monday afternoon. The first assault was reported at 8:30 p.m.
Students received a TU Alert around 9:30 Friday, telling them of increased police activity along Broad Street near Main Campus because of large groups of minors present.
Sophomore finance major Christina Lauletta went to St. Mary’s Hospital in Bucks County after being assaulted by 20 to 30 minors on Oxford Street near Broad around 8:30 p.m. Lauletta, along with two of her male friends who are also Temple students, were kicked, punched and pushed to the ground during the attack. She sustained excessive bruising, but was not severely injured.
The Dunkin Donuts on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near Broad Street locked its doors as minors “charged” the store, effectively keeping them from coming inside, said Deborah Bowens, the store’s manager. The store stayed closed until the minors were gone.
An employee at 7-Eleven on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street said the store had products stolen and had to escort customers out of the store for crowd control. Management in the store later allowed a few customers in at a time. The store did not file a police report for the stolen items.
That evening, students were returning from the Temple football game at Lincoln Financial Field against the University of South Florida when the minors were gathered along Broad Street.
Melissa, a junior accounting major who asked her last name be withheld for fear of retaliation, said she was chased by eight to 10 minors, one of whom slapped her in the face, causing her to lose hearing in her left ear for more than a day. Melissa said she did not file an official police report, but rode along with an officer who attempted to chase her assailants.
Lauletta’s father, Joe Lauletta, a 1989 business administration alumnus, said he visits his daughter often at school.
“She’s pretty street smart,” he said. “I didn’t have any concerns at all but now I’m hearing so many ‘I told you so’s.’”
“I want to know why the [TU Alert] wasn’t sent earlier,” he added.
Loretta Pragel, the mother of another Temple student who was assaulted by the same group of minors as Christina Lauletta, said she is considering removing her two sons from Temple after one was assaulted Friday night.
“I want to pull my kids out,” she said. “I’m terrified for them.”
“[The assault] was completely unprovoked,” Melissa added. “I really think they were just targeting Temple students for the hell of it.”
The intent of the Pearl Theater Meetup was not to initially to hurt Temple students, Leone said Monday evening.
“It sounds like they were just trying to get everybody together,” he said. “But when kids get together, especially a couple hundred, it can turn into something like this, unfortunately.”
Update, 10/26: President Richard Englert sent a message to students Tuesday in response to the mob on Friday that injured several students and officers. He wrote that Temple Police will nearly double its presence on Main Campus for Parents and Family Weekend and Halloween this weekend.
“I know that random acts like these are unsettling,” he wrote.
He encouraged students to use the walking escort program and Flight, the university’s door-to-door bus service, when traveling alone off-campus.
“Finally, I want to remind you that while last weekend’s events received tremendous media attention, Temple remains a very safe campus,” he added in his message. “Last year a published report showed that Temple is one of the safest schools in the region.”
Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @gill_mcgoldrick.