Sat Nov 21, 1:49 pm ET
Tween fans lose control at mall
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – Police on Long Island had to shut down a mall appearance by teen pop singer Justin Bieber after thousands of young girls showed up, and got a little too wild.
Girls and adults in the Friday crowd of nearly 3,000 started pushing and shoving as they waited for the 15-year-old to show at a clothing store at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City.
Bieber’s appearance was still two hours away when things got out of hand. Five people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.
“People started screaming, ‘Justin!’ And they ran forward and the ropes collapsed,” said 13-year-old Aimee Macchi. She said she was knocked to the floor in the rush. “Everyone was pushing. There was no room to breathe.”
Police arrested a vice president from Bieber’s record label, Island Def Jam Records, saying he wasn’t cooperating with attempts to disperse the crowd.
James Roppo, 44, of Hoboken, N.J., was charged with a series of misdemeanors, including endangering the welfare of children and obstructing governmental administration.
“We asked for his help in getting the crowd to go away by sending out a Twitter message,” said Nassau County Police Det. Lt. Kevin Smith. “By not cooperating with us, we feel he put lives in danger and the public at risk.”
Island Records, which released the Canadian teen’s first album, “My World,” this week, apologized to fans in a written statement.
Some kids and their parents had camped out before dawn for the 4 p.m. event.
Bieber never made it into the building.
“They are not allowing me to come into the mall,” he said in a message sent to fans through Twitter, the social networking service. He wrote that police had threatened to arrest him if he didn’t leave.
Bieber came to the attention of the music industry when he began posting videos of himself singing onYouTube in 2007.