SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — About 100 people were arrested and at least 44 people were taken to the hospital during a weekend college party in Southern California that devolved into a rock- and bottle-throwing melee, forcing police to fire tear gas and foam projectiles to break up the crowd.
The violence broke out near the University of California, Santa Barbara in the densely populated beachside community of Isla Vista around 9:30 p.m. Saturday during the annual spring break party known as Deltopia, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office said. The unsanctioned event drew about 15,000 people.
The crowd got unruly when a campus officer arrested someone who hit him in the face with a backpack filled with large bottles of alcohol, sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.
Authorities said some in the crowd began throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at officers, lighting fires and damaging law enforcement vehicles. Video footage showed people tearing down stop signs, rocking cars and smashing windows.
“It was an emergency situation where we had to call in mutual aid,” Hoover said. “They have had civil disturbances before in Isla Vista, but it has been many years since something like this.”
Authorities lobbed tear gas, pepper spray and foam projectiles to disperse the surging crowd.
One university officer and five deputies were injured, including one who was hit in the face with a brick and two others who were both hit in the hand with bottles, authorities said. One will require surgery for his hand, Hoover said.
It was not immediately known Sunday how many people remained in custody or were still being treated at the hospital. More than 100 people were arrested throughout the day, and 18 were apprehended during the nighttime disturbance, Hoover said.
The Santa Barbara News-Press said authorities ramped up patrols of Deltopia after an 18-year-old Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student fell to her death off the Isla Vista cliffs last year. The annual spring break party moved onto the street after county officials closed the beaches at Isla Vista in 2010 to end the party in the ocean known as Floatopia.
“Deltopia attracts out-of-towners who come in and are not invested in our community and there are some who come to cause trouble,” Hoover said.
The situation stabilized by Sunday morning after deputies received backup support from multiple agencies in neighboring Ventura County.
Isla Vista borders the university and is known for partying. The half-mile neighborhood has roughly 23,000 residents, of which 60 percent are students.
Crews spent Sunday morning cleaning up broken glass and trash strewn throughout the neighborhood.