HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Huntington Beach Police said a large and unruly crowd got into sporadic fighting and some vandalism at PCH and First following the close of the US Open of Surfing.
Police referred to the episode as a “major event.”
It was unclear what touched off the fighting but Lt. Mitchell O’Brien told KCAL9 at 8:20 p.m. Sunday that police hoped to disperse the crowd “within the next half hour.”
A large police presence tried to break up the large gathering in downtown Huntington Beach but O’Brien called the crowd “less than cooperative.”
The first reports of fighting occurred just after 7:15, said police.
Officials declared an “unlawful assembly” and gave orders to leave the area.
O’Brien said Huntington Beach Police were used to sometimes unruly crowds following the Open and other high-profile, day-long events, but police hadn’t seen anything as big as today’s disturbance “in years.”
HBPD asked for the help of other agencies to help disperse the crowd.
Some in the crowd suggested police used tear gas, bean bags and rubber bullets to disperse and control the crowd but police have not confirmed any of those reports.
A video on YouTube purported to show police tossing a tear gas canister. Another video showed about a dozen men kicking over Porta Potties — it’s alleged that was the flashpoint of the disturbance.
“We do not have specific information about the number of arrests, number of agencies who have responded, damaged property or injuries at this time,” O’Brien said in a written statement around 9 p.m.
Reporting from the scene, KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen said he spoke to witnesses who saw people just going down the street “cold cocking people” without explanation.
An eyewitness reported seeing several windows being smashed and at least one store — a skateboard and bicycle shop — being looted by vandals.
Complete order was restored in about two hours, said the police.
At 11:30 p.m., O’Brien updated his earlier statement to say that eight arrests were made for failure to disperse. “Damage included damage to city vehicles, portable toilets, newspaper racks, broken windows and signs. Loss of property is still being determined. No injuries were reported.”
The statement added, “We are seeking additional suspects and request anyone with pictures, video or information to please call the Huntington Beach Police Department Hotline at (714) 375-5066.”
Send your pics or video of the event to StreetTeam@cbs.com.