CNN, KYW, WPVI
By Alisha Ebrahimji, Andy Rose and Nouran Salahieh, CNN
(CNN) — All liquor stores in Philadelphia were closed Wednesday after several locations were looted shortly after the conclusion of peaceful protests against a judge’s decision to dismiss all charges against a former Philadelphia police officer in a fatal traffic stop shooting.
Police, who made dozens of arrests following Tuesday night’s looting, said they were prepared “to make more” if things got out of hand on Wednesday evening. “Please call 911 if you are aware of any ongoing criminal activity,” police said.
As city officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, vowed to ensure public safety and protect businesses, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board closed 49 retail wine and liquor stores – 48 in Philadelphia – after 18 stores were looted overnight, Shawn Kelly, press secretary for the board, told CNN.
Although no employees were injured, “some were understandably shaken” by the incidents, Kelly said.
“Today, all FW&GS (Fine Wine & Good Spirits) stores in Philadelphia and one in Cheltenham Plaza, Wyncote, Montgomery County, are closed in the interest of employee safety and while we assess the damage and loss that occurred,” Kelly said in a statement. “We will reopen stores when it is safe to do so and when the damage is repaired. It is too early to tell how much was damaged or destroyed.”
The board is one of the largest purchasers of beverage alcohol in the United States, according to its website.
Police will increase resources on Wednesday night, a spokesperson told CNN, without providing details. Kenney warned, “To anyone planning to participate in criminal activity, please know: there will be consequences.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, 52 people have been arrested, including three juveniles, after stores throughout Philadelphia’s Center City district and the liquor stores were looted Tuesday night, said Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia district attorney’s office.
The looting happened after peaceful protests ended following a judge’s decision to dismiss all charges against a former Philadelphia police officer, Mark Dial, in the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry on August 14, authorities said.
The city’s interim police commissioner said he believes the looters were “opportunists” that were not directly connected to the protests.
“This had nothing to do with the protests. What we had tonight was a bunch of criminal opportunists take advantage of a situation,” Commissioner John Stanford said at a late-night news conference.
At least 30 of those arrested, including the three juveniles, are facing burglary and theft charges, Roh said. One police vehicle was vandalized, but there haven’t been any arrests related to that incident.
Police started getting calls around 8 p.m. from businesses reporting they were being broken into or getting ransacked, Stanford said.
The protest over the Irizarry case ended around 7:30 p.m., and though the police department had begun moving officers out of the area, enough were around to respond quickly when 911 calls about break-ins began, Stanford said.
Officers responded to the stores, working to disperse growing crowds of “juveniles and young adults,” Stanford said.
“We were told at one point that crowd got as large as maybe 100 or so that were just making their way through Center City area,” the commissioner said.
Reports of looting began in the Center City area, then continued in other neighborhoods, according to Stanford.
“We’re investigating that there was possibly a caravan of a number of different vehicles that were going from location to location,” the commissioner told reporters.
It appears looters came from different parts of the city, Stanford said, adding that officers still were determining where they came from and how the different vehicles may be connected.
Stanford said it was unclear how many businesses were hit Tuesday, but that targeted stores included clothing and sneaker shops, high-end stores, wine and spirit stores and pharmacies.
Cell phone video obtained by CNN shows several people in hooded sweatshirts running in and ransacking an Apple store. Different video captured officers detaining several people outside a Lululemon store, where items of clothing could be seen littering the ground.
Elsewhere, officers were seen outside a Foot Locker store, where the window was smashed and merchandise was strewn around the floor, video from CNN affiliate KYW showed.
Investigators will be looking through video from the area to make additional arrests, Stanford said.
“We made arrests and we will continue to make arrests until we have all of the individuals, or a number of the individuals, that have been responsible for what we’ve seen tonight in custody,” he said.
The reports lootings in Philadelphia come as a wave of retailers – both large and small – say they’re struggling to contain store crimes that have hurt their bottom lines.
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CNN’s Danny Freeman, Rob Frehse, Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.