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 at 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 Isle Vista, a beach community that borders the UC-Santa Barbara campus, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said in a statement. The annual spring party is called "Deltopia."

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.

"An unlawful assembly was declared and soon afterward the situation escalated into a major disturbance, emergency situation,'' Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the sheriff's department, said.

Law enforcement officers, including some brought in nearby jurisdictions, used chemical agents and foam projectiles to dispurse the crowd, she said.

At least five more sheriff's deputies were injured, including one hit in the face with a brick and two struck by bottles.

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 during the disturbance, and at least 44 people were transported to a hospital.

The party was not sanctioned by the university, UC-Santa Barbara spokesman George Foulsham said.

"The actions of some 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 there were two stabbings before the melee broke out. The station said officers used tear gas, pepper spray, flash-bang grenades and foam projectiles while taking cover behind emergency vehicles to control the crowd. Santa Barbara sheriff's deputies brought in 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, including a woman found dead after last year's event, and injuries and arrests at prior events.


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