Spring break is officially here, which means tens of thousands of students from across the country are enjoying a little down time away from school. But one group of spring breakers took things a little too far over the weekend. Officers with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department responded to reports of a violent, unruly crowd gathering out the Isla Vista community, arresting nearly 100 on a variety of different charges.
The incident occurred around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night during the University of California’s annual spring break party known as Deltopia. Crowds typically gather during this event, but this year’s Deltopia took a turn for the worse when a school officer was hit in the face with backpack containing alcohol. The student who allegedly threw the bottle-filled backpack was arrested on charges of assaulting a peace officer.
Following the student’s arrest, the crowd became even more unruly and violent. Another officer on scene was struck in the face by a flying brick, and two other officers were hit with bottles. All officers who required hospital treatment have since been released, although one officer may require surgery to repair damage caused to his hand.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department was completely unmatched and outnumbered, as there were an estimated 15,000 students attending the Deltopia spring break brawl. In an effort to gain control of the situation, officers from nearby jurisdictions were called in for assistance. The joint operation required the use of foam projectiles and “chemical agents” to help disperse the unruly crowd. Students who participated in the party claim the police used unnecessary force, including the use of pepper spray, flash bangs and tear gas.
“Our community is in shock today over what happened last night. It’s unbelievable to see people throwing rocks, bricks and bottles and beer cans at law enforcement officers. “An unlawful assembly was declared and soon afterward the situation escalated into a major disturbance, emergency situation,” said Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Officials say the unruly crowd tore up street signs, built fires in the street, and vandalized police patrol cars on scene. The total cost of the damage remains unknown.
Kelly Hoover of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said that approximately 100 people had been arrested during the Deltopia party, five of whom were officers. No deaths have been reported, but dozens of people were taken to the nearby hospital for non-life threatening injuries.