Beach Disturbance at U.S. Open of Surfing
Several officers were injured and eight people were arrested Sunday night around 7 p.m. during a confrontation between beach goers and the Huntington Beach police after the United States Open of Surfing.
Lt. John Domingo said that police were still assessing the damage after the fight broke out and that minor injuries were suffered by people in the crowd and police. Domingo also said that the disturbance left city signs, vehicles and portable bathrooms damaged. Police were seen in riot gear trying to control the unruly people in the crowd.
A witness, Russ Mundi, who was amongst those attending the surfing contest, said that he saw crowds tipping over portable toilets and defying orders from police to leave. He said the police then fired what smelled like tear gas. “I heard shots going off, and the whole crowd just started running,” he said.
A group of people, in the crowd, tore down a stop sign and proceeded to smash in the window of a local bike shop. “You see a mob of people running up the street,” said Bert Etheredge, an employee at the Easyrider bicycle and skateboard shop. “That’s when we decided to shut down the shop and turn off all the lights, lock everything and kind of go into hiding, if you will.” Etheredge went on to tell KABC-TV, “It was coming through the window two seconds later, and that’s when people started jumping in and pulling the bikes out.”
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“We used crowd management tactics and devices,” Domingo said. The confrontation led to one person being arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, and seven others being arrested for other crimes that included disturbing the peace, unlawful assembly and inciting a riot, Domingo said.
The United States Open of Surfing website said in a statement, “We’re extremely disappointed and saddened by the disturbance. We work tirelessly with city staff, police, fire and other agencies to ensure a safe environment for all.”