Boardman police watching for violence at mall carnival
The township’s police chief said two uniformed officers will be stationed at a carnival at the Southern Park Mall this weekend after rumors of violence surfaced on social media.
Chief Jack Nichols said he and Supervisory Special Agent of the Youngstown FBI, Jon Holloway, who heads the Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force, met with mall personnel Thursday to plan additional security.
Although specific details haven’t been discussed, the most common rumor is that there’s a plan for retaliation for the Tuesday murders of 17-year-old Juanetta Franklin and 20-year-old Pako Lacey.
The chief says the department takes all threats seriously, but social media has helped rumors spread quicker than ever before. In the past year, rumors on social media have caused police to add security near supposed targeted locations of violence and in January 2011, officers responded to Boardman High School when about 300 students were absent because of rumored violence at the school.
“With social media and texting, everyone adds their own piece to the story, so it doesn’t take much to get a community whipped into a frenzy,” Nichols said.
The addition of Boardman officers to the mall grounds is a change from Nichols’ earlier position that officers would patrol the streets near the carnival, close enough to respond immediately if needed. He said he wanted to take extra precautions with the rumors.
Eric Bates, co-owner of Bates Brothers Amusement Co. which organizes the carnival, has said uniformed security guards paid by his company will patrol the carnival.