By Danielle Kutchel
A man has been arrested in the latest in a spate of violent incidents around Fountain Gate Shopping Centre.
The man was taken into custody after a fight broke out between six people last week.
Police were called to reports of an alleged altercation at about 7pm on Friday 24 May and issued a move on order to those involved. At the same time, officers were told that an 18-year-old Cranbourne man had allegedly stolen alcohol from a store just prior to the incident, and he was arrested.
The man has been charged with affray and theft, and bailed to appear at Dandenong Magistrate’s Court on 3 July.
Chef Rachael Webdale has worked in the centre for over five years and said the incident left her feeling shaken.
“Security couldn’t do anything, they kept pushing the kids outside and then they’d run back in again. It was very frightening, I’ve had a bit of anxiety coming to work now. I don’t feel comfortable working at nighttime now. And just to see the look on our customers’ faces, it was pretty frightening for them as well,” she said.
Friday night’s event follows a number of similar incidents near the shopping centre, including one earlier in May in which two young women were hospitalised with stab wounds after a brawl at a Fountain Drive reserve in Narre Warren.
Ms Webdale said she would like to see an increased police presence at night at the centre to stop the incidents from occurring.
In a statement, Westfield Fountain Gate centre manager, Cathy Main said the safety and security of customers, retail partners and employees was the company’s priority.
“As a social hub and meeting point in the local community, Westfield Fountain Gate strives to ensure all our customers feel welcome, comfortable and safe when visiting. We work closely with local authorities, including Police and emergency services, as needed,” she said.
Victoria Police said in a statement that it wished to reassure the community that there will be ongoing increased patrols near the shopping complex, with uniform and plain clothes police officers patrolling the area on foot and in vehicles at all times of the day and night. These patrols will continue to be supported by the Mounted Branch.
“Police will not tolerate any criminal or anti-social behaviour at the shopping centre and the community can expect to see an increased police presence in the area,” the statement read.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing, and anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.