LOCAL L.A. Now

More arrests possible in spring break party riot near UC Santa Barbara

There could be more arrests in the wake of a riot that broke out over the weekend in a party town next to UC Santa Barbara thanks to newly installed surveillance cameras, officials said.

In an interview with NewsChannel 3, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said his department plans to prosecute those involved in the Saturday night riot that injured several officers and dozens of others and hopes the cameras can turn up more evidence against those involved.

The cameras have been a point of tension with Isla Vista residents, reported the Daily Nexus, UC Santa Barbara’s student paper.

At least 100 people were arrested and 46 were sent to local hospitals during a melee that broke out Saturday night during “Deltopia,” a raucus spring break party near the university.

UC Santa Barbara Associate Dean of Students Katya Armistead told the Daily Nexus that she watched the riot on TV in awe.

“I was devastated, just devastated, watching the coverage,” Armistead told the paper. “I started looking at social media, Facebook, and started seeing a lot of students that I knew reacting and pretty upset. They were tear gassed or they were scared to leave their homes.”

Isla Vista is only about a half-square mile but houses 23,000 residents. On weekends, the population can swell to 40,000, according to the sheriff’s department website.

“You can’t say that the locals are innocent in all of this, but we do find that Isla Vista attracts people from out of town to come in,” department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover told the Daily Nexus. “They’re not invested in our community, and they’re attracted by the atmosphere.”

For their part, Isla Vista residents also acknowledged they played a role in the party’s violent turn but say visitors deserve most of the blame.

“It was definitely outsiders. But we’re not free from blame either,” Isla Vista resident Troy Hoffman told NewsChannel 3.

Brown told the station Santa Barbara hasn’t seen that level of violence toward law enforcement in at least 15 years.

One of the officers was hit by flying rocks, bottles and bricks, authorities said. The officer was among several responding to a fight inside Deltopia, officials said.

A university police officer was struck in the head by a backpack containing large bottles of alcohol about 9:30 p.m., Hoover said.

“It knocked him down, split his forehead open to the point that he needed extensive suturing,” Brown said.

When an arrest was made, the crowd became unruly, officials said.

Several people threw rocks and bottles at officers and an unlawful assembly was declared, authorities said. During the melee, street signs were ripped down, small fires were set and Sheriff's Department vehicles were damaged, authorities said.

At least five deputies were injured, including one who was hit in the face with a brick.

Authorities said they used tear gas, pepper spray, flash-bang grenades and foam projectiles to control the crowd.

An estimated 15,000 people attended the event.

After several hours, authorities said, officers were able to disperse the crowd and restore order.

Isla Vista is no stranger to alcohol-induced violence and crime. Two months ago a woman reported she was gang-raped on her way home. The sheriff’s department even offers a “survival guide” for living in Isla Vista.

About 60% of the town’s residents go to UC Santa Barbara and are tied to about 35% of the area’s crime, according to the sheriff’s department.

Though Isla Vista accounts for about 7% Santa Barbara County’s population, it’s responsible for 25% of the county’s serious crime, including burglary, robbery, grand theft and sexual assault.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @josephserna

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