McALLEN — Pandemonium swept La Plaza Mall on Friday afternoon, when rumors spread that pop superstars Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez stopped by — hours after visiting Don Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant and shopping for perfume downtown.
La Plaza Mall unsuccessfully attempted to dispel the rumor on Twitter, but teenagers kept pouring into the building. Many gathered outside Foot Locker, which hastily shut the security gate. Police eventually shut down the mall.
“Rumor Alert: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are NOT at La Plaza Mall,” tweeted @LaPlazaMall at 4:48 p.m. Friday.
“As of 6 p.m. today, La Plaza Mall reached capacity and officially closed,” according a mall statement released Friday afternoon. “Following discussions with McAllen Police Department, mall entrances have been closed by the police and mall security. At this time, the mall plans to re-open at its normal time of 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.”
Gomez apparently arrived for BorderFest, the annual cultural festival and carnival hosted by Hidalgo. She’s scheduled to perform 8 p.m. Saturday at the State Farm Arena.
Bieber and Gomez did stop at Don Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant on McColl Road, though, said Manager Lori Johnson, 38, the restaurant owner’s daughter. They arrived shortly after 11 a.m. with four companions.
Bieber ordered huevos rancheros and Gomez ordered chilaquiles a la mexicana, Johnson said. In addition to the $14 gratuity, they tipped an additional $50. The bill totaled $153.04.
Not long afterward, the superstars headed downtown with a small entourage. They stopped at Perfumeria de la Versailles on South Main Street. Someone snapped a photo, which surfaced on celebrity gossip website TMZ.com.
“Well, I don’t think people recognized them because she had a hoodie on and he had a cap. You know, a baseball cap,” said store owner, who wouldn’t provide her name.
Clerk Aracohely Corona, though, recognized the celebrity duo. They headed for the back, apparently not wanting to draw attention. Neither Bieber nor Gomez purchased anything, according to the store owner.
“Actually, the girl was so shocked when she saw him, she was panicking,” the store owner said.
A traveling companion called Nick DeMoura bought Emporio Armani for Men cologne, which cost $57.36, according to the credit card receipt. Fan websites alternately describe DeMoura as a backup dancer and choreographer who works with Bieber.
DeMoura left without the receipt, which was time-stamped 12:59 p.m.
The trail went cold afterward, but rumors spread about Bieber and Gomez visiting La Plaza Mall. Teenagers clutching phones clogged the hallways and ran around the mall, apparently looking for the superstars. After Foot Locker shut down the main entrance, a crowd gathered outside the service exit near Luby’s, convinced Bieber would attempt to leave through the back.
Police arrived and shut down the mall with help from security guards. The fans eventually dispersed, but several dozen regrouped outside the Renaissance Casa de Palmas hotel on North Main Street, where they heard the superstars were staying.
“We were on the way to the mall, and we heard that it was confirmed that he was no longer there,” said Sally Blanca, a sophomore at James “Nikki” Rowe High School.
Blanca and a half-dozen friends stood outside the hotel until police shooed them away — and they regrouped across the street. Nearby, 14-year-old Vania Benitez waited patiently with her mom, hoping to spot Bieber or Gomez.
“I just want a picture. I wouldn’t go crazy like everyone else — and not bother them that much,” Benitez said. “I know how crazy fans can be, so I don’t want to give them any trouble.”
Statement from Simon Property Group: "As of 6 p.m. today, La Plaza Mall reached capacity and officially closed. Following discussions with McAllen Police Department, mall entrances have been closed by the police and mall security. At this time, the mall plans to re-open at its normal time of 10:00 a.m. tomorrow."
UPDATE: La Plaza Mall is closing after word quickly spread that Justin Bieber paid a visit Friday afternoon.
A crowd of people had gathered inside the mall in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the pop superstar.
McALLEN — Pop stars Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez stopped at Don Pepe's Mexican Restaurant on Friday morning, where they dropped $153.04 on breakfast.
Bieber and Gomez arrived with four bodyguards shortly after 11 a.m., said Manager Lori Johnson, 38, the restaurant owner's daughter. The bill totaled $153.04.
Gomez is scheduled to perform 8 p.m. Saturday at the State Farm Arena, as part of the annual BorderFest celebration.
Bieber ordered huevos rancheros and Gomez ordered chilaquiles a la mexicana, Johnson said. They tipped $50 on top of the $14 included gratuity.
Afterward, the two pop stars headed downtown, where they stopped at Perfumeria de la Versailles on South Main Street.
"Well, I dont think people recognized them because she had a hoodie on and he has a cap, you know, a baseball cap," said the store owner, who declined to give her name.
The perfume clerk, Aracohely Corona, recognized them, though, the owner said.
"Actually the girl was so shocked when she saw him, she was panicking," the owner said. Bieber and Gomez went to the back of the store, apparently not wanting to draw attention.
Neither Bieber nor Gomez bought anything, the owner said, but a man traveling with them did. His name was Nick Demoura, according to the credit card receipt.
Demora appeared to be a bodyguard, the owner said, and purchased a cologne called Emporio Armani for Men for $57.36. He left without taking the receipt, which was time-stamped 12:59 p.m.
Check back for updates.