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Post-Midnight Friday Fracas With Gunfire @ Pike; PD Stops Melee After Firing At Suspect Observed Shooting Into Crowd From Fleeing Car; Vehicle Later Spotted & Two Suspects Apprehended; Multiple Other Arrests
(July 30, 2005) -- LB's "Pike @ Rainbow Harbor," part of City Hall's highly touted shoreline development (area of Pine Ave. and Seaside Way) was the scene of a fight involving roughly thirty people, followed by gunshots described by LBPD as coming from more than one weapon from the crowd shortly after midnight Friday (12:45 a.m. July 29). The events ended only after an LB police officer -- fearing for the public's safety under the circumstances -- fired at a suspect observed by the officer to be shooting at the crowd while the suspect hung out the driver's side window of a vehicle.
The horrifying events were described in an LBPD release:
" ...[O]fficers from the Long Beach Police department responded to a fight involving over thirty subjects, in the area of Seaside Way and Pine Avenue. The first officer on scene heard several shots, from what was described as more than one weapon from the crowd.
The officer observed one suspect shooting several rounds into the crowd, as he hung out the driver-side window of his vehicle, while speeding away from the scene. The officer realizing that the suspect had no regard for the lives of these individuals, and fearing for the safety of the public, shot at the suspect as the vehicle fled the scene.
LBPD says a description of the suspect and vehicle were immediately radioed to fellow officers...and within minutes, they were spotted a few blocks away. LBPD officers then conducted a High Risk traffic stop, taking two male suspects into custody without incident and recovering one gun.
LBPD adds, "Several other individuals were arrested for various charges, including, drunk in public and resisting arrest. One possible victim was transported by private vehicle to a local hospital with non life-threatening injuries."
As previously reported by LBReport.com, LB Police Chief Anthony Batts has publicly described the difficulties in meeting police challenges resulting from the combination of new downtown development coupled with too few officers. [LBReport.com comment: Development and police levels are both determined by voted actions of the City Council.]
In February 2005, in an extemporaneous preview of his then-upcoming "State of the Police Dept." address, LB Chief of Police Anthony Batts said:
Chief Batts: :...Two years ago [Sept. 03], I went before the City Council and I told the City Council I thought two years ago we needed 130 police officers...And I said that was at that time and those numbers were increasing, plus the city is growing...You have a bunch of condos that are going on in the downtown area. You have a beautiful entertainment zone that's going on downtown...I love that area! I am so proud of it, I've really got to tell you, at nighttime when you've got those beautiful blue lights that are goin' on, you have visitors that come in...because I remember when I started at the police organization in the 80s, I remember what that area looked like...and now, this has hotels, it's beautiful, it's an entertainment area...
Activity down there has gone up 70%. Well that 70% translates into work for me, because when those bars close at 2 o'clock in the morning, and those 21 year old young men see those 21 year old young girls, and they've just finished drinking some beers, it becomes problematic down there, and you have one macho young kid bumping into another macho young kid and saying, hey I'm tougher than you, and so that requires work for us because we have to respond down there and stay on top of those things.
And so our numbers are not growing fast enough to keep pace with that. The city is growing with all the condos that are going on...and other projects that are down there...When all those people come, it's going to impact our resources and we're not growing fast enough to address that.
LB City Hall has used federal taxpayer dollars, contained in a Community Oriented Policing grant, to budget 24 more officers over the past two years...with 12 more more slated to be added in FY 06.
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