Florida Mall locked down after fight breaks out, officials say

Deputies say chairs hitting floor were mistaken for gunshots

By Dawn Jorgenson - Graham Media Group, Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Florida Mall was placed on lockdown after a physical altercation broke out Saturday evening, Orange County Sheriff's Office officials said.

Deputies responded to the mall on Orange Blossom Trail just after 5 p.m. after reports of possible shots fired inside the food court, but they said they quickly determined it was not a shooting. Instead, a fight between a man and woman had taken place.

Authorities said the suspects are 39-year-old Jenny Ochoa (pictured below) and 55-year-old Anthony Charles Manuel. They have both been arrested on charges of battery and disorderly conduct at a public establishment.

"It did not appear shots had been fired," Cmdr. Joe Armstrong, with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, said. "It was merely some chairs that had fallen on the floor, echoing." 

Orange County Fire Rescue officials said they are evaluating 18 people for minor injuries and eight were sent to area hospitals.

“Everybody was running,” 10-year-old Joel Colon, of Orlando, said. “We had to get into lockdown because people ran and everything, and people were getting hurt.”

Vivian Drago, who is visiting from Brazil, dropped her shopping bags when she saw people running. She and her family got separated during the lockdown when a storefront security gate came down. 

“The doors were closed from the stores, so it was really scary,” she said.

Jenny Ochoa

This is not the first time the fear of gunshots has rattled shoppers in the halls of the mall. In August 2016, several people were hurt after popping balloons at a new restaurant were mistaken for gunshots.

And in April of this year, one man was arrested for trying to distract mall employees and shoppers by setting off fireworks inside the Florida Mall so he could steal a watch.

The two people who were allegedly engaged in the fight Saturday have been arrested and are expected to face charges of battery and disorderly conduct, deputies said. 

The lockdown at the Florida Mall was lifted after nearly an hour and the mall has since reopened. 

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