LOCAL L.A. Now

L.A. teen charged in spring break melee near UC Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara County prosecutors have charged a Los Angeles teen with assaulting a sheriff's deputy during a spring break party over the weekend in Isla Vista, an incident authorities say helped spark a violent melee that led to more than 100 people getting arrested.

Desmond Louis Edwards, 17, was charged Tuesday with mayhem, resisting an officer, assault on an officer, causing great bodily injuring and committing a violent offense. Prosecutors are charging him as an adult.

His arraignment was delayed until Thursday, television station KEYT reported.

Sheriff’s officials said they were trying to break up a fight during “Deltopia” on Saturday night in Isla Vista -- a dense, half-square-mile neighborhood near UC Santa Barbara with a history of raucous parties --when they encountered Edwards.

A deputy was trying to arrest Edwards for fighting when the teen allegedly turned and swung a backpack full of alcohol bottles, hitting the deputy in the head, the Santa Barbara Independent reported. The deputy required 20 stitches.

As other deputies rushed in to help, the crowd began throwing bricks, rocks and bottles, officials say. The party, which attracted a crowd estimated at between 20,000 and 25,000 people, quickly escalated into a riot.

Revelers broke windows and pulled out stop signs as an estimated 190 law enforcement officers from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties worked to regain control. Authorities used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. More than 100 people were arrested and several deputies were injured.

Though many blamed outsiders for the misbehavior, UC Santa Barbara student association President Jonathan Abboud and Vice President Kyley Scarlet said locals -- many of them UC Santa Barbara students -- had no one to blame but themselves.

"It is time to stop the habit of pushing the blame onto figurative and literal out-of-towners and take ownership of Isla Vista's future," the leaders said in their message to the student body.

Fewer than half the people who were arrested during the riot acknowledged being UC Santa Barbara or Santa Barbara City College students, according to preliminary statistics released by the Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday.

Officials reported that of 62 self-identified college students who were arrested, 16 were from UCSB, 10 were local city college students; the rest were from schools outside the county, authorities said.

In all, there were 130 arrests for being drunk in public, unlawful assembly or refusing to disperse. There were 190 citations issued for being a minor in possession of alcohol, having an open container or loud music, among other violations.

Fifty people were taken to local hospitals, 26 of them were injured during the riot, officials said. The four deputies injured suffered head or hand injuries after being hit with thrown objects.

Despite all the arrests and citations, authorities say there could be more people that need to be held accountable. The Sheriff’s Department is reviewing footage from surveillance cameras erected before the event in hopes more people can be identified.

Anyone who has video of the incident can email it to video@sbsheriff.org or call the sheriff’s Special Investigations Division at (805) 681-4175.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @josephserna

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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