10 News' Charles Billi gets a sneak peek inside the the Florida State Fair before the big opening day!
Tampa- Complete chaos. That's how one deputy describes fights that broke out at the fair Friday night.
The fight was so big that 99 people were thrown out and 12 people were arrested, some charged with felony assault on a police officer.
STORY: Fair-goer says he was caught in the middle of the chaos
And while the news shocks many, statistics show this isn't something new. It's a scary trend that seems to be taking place year after year on the first Friday of the state fair.
During this Friday's fight, "Several deputies found themselves attacked because of mobs of people fighting," Colonel Jim Previtera told 10 News.
Mobs that the sheriff's office says all started because of a trend called 'wilding'.
"We were prepared for what could arise," said Col. Previtera.
"Wilding", or "raging" as one may call it, has been going on at the fair since the 90's.
"This behavior is unacceptable and extremely dangerous," said Previtera.
In 2011, 93 people were ejected from the fair; in 2012, 48 and in 2013, 68 people were removed from the midway.
"We're usually able to control it," said Previtera. But this year, they couldn't, which is why they had to eject 99 people, mostly juveniles, including 14-year-old Andrew Joseph.
"They are ejected from the midway, not fair property," said Previtera.
Those ejected are transported to the fair gate along Orient Road.
"It's a safe location. It's well lit and there are a number of deputies there. We can't baby sit them," says Col. Previtera.
But for some parents, they say that's not acceptable. Joseph was later killed crossing I-4. His parents were never notified their son was kicked out.
"This is a busy street and you just kick out 100 kids. Where do you think they are going to go and what are they going to do? " asked Stephanie Paft, a concerned mother.
The Sheriff's office said they have met with fair staff multiple times since Friday night regarding safety procedures. They have made recommendations to change the policy when it comes to letting kids in free, even suggesting a parent should be there.
But when it comes to the way they handle ejections they believe the area is a safe place for anyone to go, including minors if they get kicked out of the fair.
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