A popular event in South Bend, Indiana, was shut down early on Friday night after multiple fights broke out, resulting in police calling in officers from multiple areas to help control the crowds. Attendees shared that police had a hard time controlling the massive crowd and protecting the innocent bystanders from the fights.
Friday night marked the final occurrence of the popular annual event in South Bend, where truckloads of sand are distributed along the East Race to create a beach party for attendees. Friday night is traditionally teen night, whereas Saturday is reserved for adults. Despite the popularity of the event, it was decided that this would be the last year. During the event, a group of teens at the Beach Bash started fighting for unknown reasons, leading to the outbreak of other fights at the same time. It is unknown if the fights were preplanned or happened at the spur of the moment.
Fox 28 News reported that there were no injuries during the event, and there were no firearms reported as being used. There were reports of pepper spray being used on the crowds.
Over 40 police officers responded to the event, including officers from South Bend, county police, state police, and officers from neighboring Mishawaka. South Bend police reported that the number of officers called in from other precincts was due to the riots occurring during a change of shift. However, conversations heard on the police scanner frequencies revealed frantic calls for all available officers to respond to gain control of the crowds, with no mention of shift changes or requirements of those ending their shifts to return to duty.
Police Division Chief Scott Ruszkowski stated that the fight inside the event was small and quickly under control. However, when the teens spilled out onto the streets outside the event, things became a little more out of control, according to WNDU TV.
“Out in the streets is when things kind of went more out of hand, and we were able to quell that rather quickly. Again, we have no reported injuries, no reported taser use, and no reported shots fired. So all those myths I’d like to stop right now because those are not confirmed, and certainly I have no indication that they happened.”
Despite the chief’s statement, many who attended the event state that he is downplaying the event, and that the frantic call for more units would not have been justified if everything was under control.
Due to the fights and rioting teens, the event was forced to close nearly an hour before it was scheduled to end, leaving thousands of teens forced to wait out in the streets as they waited for their rides home, leaving them susceptible to further violence. Many parents showed great disdain at the city for allowing their children out unsupervised, rather than keeping them safe inside the event boundaries.
[Photo By Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images]