Chaos and violence in Philadelphia: Hundreds of young criminals loot downtown stores

The wave of vandalism occurred shortly after demonstrators gathered to protest a judge's ruling to dismiss charges against a police officer accused of murdering Eddie Irizarry.

Things got out of control Tuesday night in Philadelphia when around 100 criminals - many of them minors - violently looted various stores in the Center City area, also known as Philadelphia's bustling heart.

Many of the young people involved in the wave of vandalism were hooded when they violently broke into the stores to steal clothes and other products before running out in what is known as a flash mob-style robbery. Some of the affected stores are Lululemon, Apple Store, Footlocker and Fine Wine & Good Spirits.

The Philadelphia Police Department confirmed that more than 20 criminals were arrested and two firearms were recovered as a result of the arrests.

Acting Police Commissioner John Stanford reported that the looting began around 8 p.m. He said they are investigating whether criminals used social media to plan their criminal acts.

The wave of crime followed a local protest

The vandalism and thefts came after demonstrators gathered in Philadelphia to protest a judge's decision to dismiss charges against former police officer Mark Dial, who was accused of murdering Eddie Irizarry.

Irizarry had committed a crime (erratic driving) and was being pursued by officers until he was arrested. According to police body camera footage, the young man was armed with a knife that he pulled out when police first came in contact with him. After a brief dispute, Dial fired his gun.

Philadephia's Managing Director Tumar Alexander linked the looting to the judge's decision to exonerate Dial and called the riots "disrespectful to the Irizarry family," according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

However, the police chief offered another version of the events and declared that the looting and riots had "nothing to do with the protests" that took place previously.

This had nothing to do with the protests (...) What we had tonight was a bunch of criminal opportunists take advantage of a situation and try to destroy our city.