Police have released the identity of a West Hempstead man arrested Tuesday after being chased by mall security guards and knocking over a display case, which caused dozens of shoppers to frantically flee the Roosevelt Field Mall because they thought the sound was gunshots, Nassau County police said.
The Dec. 24 incident sent dozens of shoppers racing for the doors of the Garden City mall around 1 p.m. and droves of police officers rushing to the packed mall on Christmas Eve.
Police said Aaron Darby, 19, was running away from mall security guards after he allegedly stole merchandise from Macy’s. During a scuffle with the security guards, a display case reportedly fell over.
Arriving police officers were met with dozens of frantic shoppers running from the exits of the mall, telling the officers that gunshots were heard inside.
Authorities believe fellow shoppers mistook the noise of the display case crashing down as gunshots, which prompted numerous 911 calls. A police spokesperson said no gunshots were fired during the incident and there was no weapon involved.
Darby was arrested at the scene and charged with petit larceny, police said. He was released on an appearance ticket and will face a judge for arraignment on Jan. 7.