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Police: Fight began inside food court, shots fired outside mall

Police responded to a report of shots fired near West Towne Mall in Madison Saturday night.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said a disturbance began inside the food court Saturday around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. People started physically fighting inside but moved the fight outdoors, just outside the food court, where multiple shots were fired.

Someone ran, got into a vehicle and fled the scene, DeSpain said.

Police said officers believed that several additional shots were fired as the subject began fleeing the area.

Police don't know how many people were involved in the disturbance, but said it was a small group of people. Everyone involved fled before police arrived. Officers found shell casings outside JC Penney and the food court entrance.

Police said West Towne Mall was locked down and people were advised to stay out of the area. DeSpain said the mall would be closed for the rest of the night.

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Police release images possibly connected to west side vandalism

Images released by Madison police on Friday are believed to be connected to a rash of vandalism and graffiti on the city’s west side nearly two weeks ago.

Police said the images from a home surveillance camera show a car on Brule Circle at about 2:26 a.m.

More than two dozen Madison families woke up Feb. 14 to find vulgar language and ethnic and racial slurs spray-painted on their property. Police say about 38 west side houses, including garage doors, driveways and vehicles, were vandalized - and the number of reported damage to homes continues to grow.

While most of the damage included profane language and explicit drawings, several contained racially based and anti-Semitic slurs and swastikas. Some of that property damage, located on Brule Circle, had neighbors in the community calling the incident a hate crime.

Anti-Semitic talks take center stage in Madison

Hannah Rosenthal has traveled to Europe to experience anti-Semitism at its worst.

“If we could figure out why hatred is on the increase, we would be Noble Prize winners, and there isn't an easy answer to it, and I certainly don't know it,” Hannah Rosenthal, CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, said.

Rosenthal offered that worldwide perspective to an auditorium of people Thursday night.

At Memorial High School, right around the corner from the homes hit by graffiti on Madison’s west side, Rosenthal also spoke about the increase of incidents across the state. According to her organization, the number of reports of anti-Semitic incidents in 2014 was double the number made the year before.

“Hate is hate, so there were swastikas, there were racial epithets, there were gross sexual things. You call it what it is: stupid, ignorant and completely unacceptable in our community,” Rosenthal said.

Police report thefts from west side offices

Madison police said they’re investigating a string of thefts from west side offices.

In one case, a 60-year-old woman told police that on Feb. 18, she left her office in the 1200 block of John Q. Hammons Drive for a short time and found the contents of her purse were missing when she returned. Her credit card was used to make several hundred dollars' worth of purchases the same afternoon.

The woman said she spotted a white man wearing hoop earrings in a hallway, who she initially thought he was a delivery person, but said he was later seen exiting from a rear door and getting into a car driven by a second man.

On Feb. 16, a 59-year-old woman reported that someone got into her office in the 400 block of Science Drive and took her wallet. Someone used the credit cards at several locations before she could cancel them.

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Zoo announces new polar bears

The Henry Vilas Zoo announced the addition of two polar bears to the new "Arctic Passage" exhibit set to open this summer.

Suka and Sakari are 2 1/2-year-old twins that will come from the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Once they arrive, the Henry Vilas Zoo will house two of only 60 polar bears in Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos in North America.

A release from the zoo states that the new exhibit is designed to meet or exceed "the most stringent standards in bear care."

The Arctic Passage exhibit is on schedule to open Memorial Day weekend.  About $270,000 is still needed to pay for the project.

WATCH: Madison Memorial advances in hockey tournament

Madison Memorial beat Edgewood Tuesday night to advance in the WIAA state hockey tournament.

WATCH highlights from the game Tuesday.

Memorial will play Middleton next.

WATCH: Cold-weather zoo visits worth bundling up

There's no hibernating for Henry Vilas Zoo; the zoo is open 365 days a year and even in the middle of a Wisconsin winter, there are many reasons to take a stroll through the exhibits.

WATCH Leah Linscheid's report on winter-loving zoo critters.