Nine teens who allegedly took part in a Hollywood flash mob last week have been charged with a serious crime — robbery.
The L.A. County District Attorney's office says the nine, who have not been identified because they're underage, have pleaded not guilty:
The rampage happened Tuesday night, with an epicenter of Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue.
Shopkeepers told us a group of 20 or more teens ran through their stores and grabbed t-shirts and other goods, punched them when they objected, and ran off.
Police initially stated they believed the action might have been related to protests over the George Zimmerman verdict, but they later backed down, and there wasn't much evidence that we could find on the ground of such a connection.
However, it did seem possible that with police on high alert for Trayvon Martin-related demonstrations in the Crenshaw District, teens took advantage of short-handed patrols in Hollywood.
Authorities said the young people used social media to coordinate the flash mob.
Here's what the District Attorney's office alleged in a statement this afternoon:
Nine juveniles who were allegedly part of a flash mob at Hollywood and Highland have been charged with robbery. Three females and two males – all 16 — and four 15-year-old males were charged with robbing pedestrians of cell phones, a wallet and a skateboard. Police believe the rampage was sparked by messages on social media sites.
Four of the accused were released to parents; five remained in custody, the D.A.'s office said.
They were due back in court next month.