100 arrested after Calif. spring break party turns violent – USA TODAY
Six police officers were injured, more than 100 people were arrested and dozens were hospitalized when a large spring break party near the University of California-Santa Barbara turned into an unruly civil disturbance, officials said Sunday.
Police used tear gas and what they described as “foam projectiles” to regain control of the rock and bottle-throwing crowd.
An estimated 15,000 people attended the all-day party Saturday at Isla Vista, a beach community that borders the UC-Santa Barbara campus, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said. The annual spring party is called “Deltopia.”
“Our community is in shock today over what happened last night,” Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said. “It’s unbelievable to see people throwing rocks, bricks and bottles and beer cans at law enforcement officers.”
Violence erupted around 9:30 p.m. after a university officer was hit in the face with a backpack containing bottles of alcohol, the department said.
One person was charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly striking the campus officer, and 18 people were charged with refusing to disperse, Hoover said. She was unable to say if any were still in custody Sunday evening.
“An unlawful assembly was declared and soon afterward the situation escalated into a major disturbance, emergency situation,” Hoover said.
Law enforcement officers, including some from nearby jurisdictions, used chemical agents and foam projectiles to disperse the crowd, she said.
At least five sheriff’s deputies were injured, including one hit in the face with a brick and two struck by bottles. All officers who were injured were doing well and out of the hospital, although one still faces surgery on a hand, she said.
Police said revelers ripped up stop signs, lit small fires and damaged police vehicles before the crowd was dispersed.
Hoover said more than 100 people were arrested during the day-long party, including 18 at the disturbance, and at least 44 people were taken to a hospital.
The party was not sanctioned by the university, UC-Santa Barbara spokesman George Foulsham said.
“The actions of some of the participants involved in last night’s incidents were outrageous and extremely dangerous,” he said. “Any of our students found to have violated the law or university policies are subject to university sanctions.”
KEYT-TV reported that there were two stabbings before the melee broke out.
The station said officers used tear gas, pepper spray, flash-bang grenades and foam projectiles to control the crowd while taking cover behind emergency vehicles. Santa Barbara sheriff’s deputies used an armored SWAT vehicle.
The station said on its website, KEYT.com, that a videojournalist was struck by a projectile and another was overcome by tear gas as he was transmitting live video from the scene.
“We saw just massive riots, people throwing bottles and rocks and tearing out stop signs,” university freshman John Meza, 18, said, Southern California Public Radio reported on its website, SCPR.org.
“We looked over to see what they were all crowding around. There was a car — they were kicking in the windows — that had been, like, crashed into the curb.”
The Isla Vista party has had problems in the past, and in 2009 local officials banned the party from the beach itself. During last year’s event, a student fell to her death from a cliff, Hoover said. She said the event has grown greatly in size in recent years as a result of exposure through social media.