FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — About a thousand vehicles were parked Saturday evening in the Glenbrook Commons and Glenbrook Square Mall parking lots for a diesel rally. Authorities report they did not have permission to do this.
Fort Wayne Police Department Officers responded to the scene in reference to a disturbance in the form of a large truck gathering on the lot of both properties. According to an FWPD spokesperson Sofia Rosales-Scatena, this was some sort of internet rally to gather diesel trucks.
“It caught us off guard,” she explained. “We weren’t expecting this kind of thing obviously. So we were kind of taken by surprise by it’s enormity.”
When WANE 15 arrived at the scene, some trucks were doing burnouts and some attendees were setting off fireworks.
The gathering was on private property and there were several trucks that were blocking the road due to being in stopped traffic on Lima Road. They were trying to get into the area that was flooded with trucks.
Officers were getting calls about employees stuck inside their workplaces afraid to leave. Calls came in from stranded employees and customers stating they were scared to go to their vehicles. Officers assisted as best they could with getting people out of the area.
The crowd was reported by officers as around a thousand trucks and several thousand people. Specialty units were called in to assist in clearing the area and preparing for possible arrests.
FWPD reports that officers were able to track down the property owner who had apparently not given permission for the gathering to occur on the property. Once that was confirmed and permission from the property manager to clear the lot was given, officers continued formulating a plan to get people off the property.
That plan included a text alert feature that had never been used before. A text message from the police department went out in a geo-fenced area along with audible messages by police vehicles. The text message read, “By order of the Fort Wayne Police department if you are receiving this message you need to vacate the Glenbrook Mall area immediately or you will be arrested.”
After the message went out, the people began to slowly pack up and leave. Many remarked they didn’t know permission was not given and they apologized as they left the area. Within about an hour most of the area had been vacated.
“This was the first time we were able to use that system and it did look like it worked really well,” Rosales-Scatena said. “I think it’s just going to be case-by-case basis. I can’t say it’s going to be used each and every time because I don’t know that. I don’t know what the severity of the situation is going to be each time, but we will look forward to using this more often just to keep people more aware.”
There were no reports of any physical violence or injuries during this event or its conclusion. There was also no reported physical damage to buildings. No physical arrests were made during this incident. Officers stood by until most of the area was cleared.
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