HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Bicycle salesman Bert Etheredge locked down the shop where he works and sent customers and co-workers into a back room when he saw a raucous mob moving up the main street of a California beach town after a popular surf contest.
Moments later, the wild crowd yanked out a stop sign and rammed it through the window of the Easyrider shop before stealing a bike.
“It was like a flood of people,” Etheredge said. “A running from the bulls kind of thing.”
More than 100 police officers responded to quell the disturbance on Sunday night in Huntington Beach, the city that bills itself as “Surf City USA,” after a fight broke out across from the beach where thousands of spectators had gathered for the popular nine day-U.S. Open of Surfing.
The raucous crowd toppled portable toilets, threw items from rooftops and smashed car windows along the popular downtown strip lined with restaurants, bars and surf and skate shops.
Police fired pepper balls and rubber projectiles to break up the melee.
One person was treated for injuries at a hospital after apparently being hit by a flying bottle and one of the rubber projectiles, Huntington Beach police Lt. Mitchell O’Brien said.
Seven people were booked into jail, one for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly hitting an officer with a skateboard. Others were being investigated for drunken conduct and failure to disperse. Officers initially detained nine people, but two were later released.
“Any time you have thousands of people put together like this, you have the potential for things to go wrong,” O’Brien said.
Police were sifting through photos and video of the melee posted online and expect to make more arrests.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, police Chief Ken Small defended the officers’ actions.