COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Local law enforcement is drawing attention to a new violent trend. They are calling them “flash mob” takeover events.
These large gatherings planned on social media often turn violent. Columbus police are investigating a mass shooting at a block party on the southeast side early morning Monday. At least five people were wounded — at least three of them under the age of 20.
Neighbors say hundreds of people were at the party. Police believe this block party and other recent takeover events were advertised on social media. Brian Steel, the Executive Vice President of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital Lodge 9, said these social media parties are created for chaos. He said people are traveling from across the state to attend these large takeover events.
With these types of incidents becoming more common, police are constantly on the lookout for clues. “If you want to meet up, show off your car, that’s perfectly fine and we encourage that. If you are coming to our city to engage in one of these flash mobs or takeovers, we will arrest you and we will incarcerate you,” Steel said.
Steel said oftentimes these meetups take place at a rental home. He said when that happens the house is left trashed. On April 29, hundreds of people crowded the streets of Clintonville for a street takeover also planned on social media. Police say when they tried to break it up, the people started shooting at Columbus Police officers.
“It’s almost lawlessness with a herd mentality that we can just do whatever we want. We are here to tell you that is not true,” Steel said.
Steel said all law enforcement in Central Ohio works together to identify these flash mobs. He said they want to be aware of it before it happens. This way they are prepared to respond. “What we do is we know they are coming, we know where they are going to be, we have a rough estimate of how many vehicles,” Steel said. “We are getting better and better at this and the police will follow you.”
Columbus Police still have not named any suspects involved in Monday morning’s block party.