Santa Barbara Riot: Police Officers Hurt, Over 100 Arrests

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Santa Barbara saw a pretty violent weekend that had spring-breakers and police going head-to-head at an "out of control" party near UC Santa Barbara.

Officials claim that a 17-year old teenager from the Los Angeles area is suspected of the assault that led to the riot Saturday night. Although a name was not released, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department believes he is the one who struck a UCSB police officer in the head with a backpack full of large alcohol bottles.

Another police officer was hit by flying rocks, bottles and bricks and sustained extensive injuries as he and other law enforcement personnel tried to break up a disturbance at the party, authorities said.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown told KTLA that the university police officer was struck in the head while responding to the spring-break party, dubbed "Deltopia," about 9:30 p.m. Saturday in Isla Vista.

“It knocked him down, split his forehead open to the point that he needed extensive suturing,” Brown said.

When an arrest was made, the crowd became unruly, officials said.

After the rock and bottle throwing became unruly an unlawful assembly was declared, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. During the melee, street signs were ripped down, small fires were set and Sheriff's Department vehicles were damaged, authorities said.

Officers arrested at least 100 people and dozens were hurt during the boisterous event turned riot, which lasted for several hours and found police and spring break partiers brawling on the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive.

In an attempt to stop the chaos, at least five deputies were injured that included one who was hit in the face with a brick, and many more people were sent to the hospital for related injuries, authorities said.

According to KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara, authorities used tear gas, pepper spray, flash-bang grenades and foam projectiles to control the crowd.

Police officers are blaming social media on the riot, stating that Twitter and Facebook chatter helped draw more than 15,000 people to the small Isla Vista neighborhood.

“Social media helped push this event from somewhere around eight-to-ten thousand people up to 15-to-20 thousand,” says Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara Sheriff Department. While the event began decades ago as a spring break beach party, the revelers have been banned from the waterfront since 2009 and limited to parties at individual residences.

An estimated 15,000 people attended Deltopia.

After several hours, authorities said, officers were able to disperse the crowd and restore order.

Brown told KTLA that the situation could have been much worse if deputies had not acted quickly.

“There could’ve been, potentially, loss of life, many more injuries much more property damage," he said.

Image via YouTube

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