L.A. Now

School security upped after 6 students are arrested in lunchtime melee

Security increases at Santa Maria high school after lunchtime fights lead to arrests

Righetti High School officials will increase security and classes will resume Thursday after lunchtime fights led to six student arrests Wednesday, the school district said in a statement. The district did not elaborate on the new security measures.

The Santa Maria Joint Unified School District said those responsible for the fights, which led to a lockdown and the cancellation of classes, will be disciplined.

School district officials said the first fight started at about 12:30 p.m. between two female students. A second brawl erupted between two male students.

A large crowd gathered around a campus-based Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputy who tried to intervene. Sheriff's officials say the crowd yelled obscenities at him and pelted him with bottles and containers of food. School administrators and security officers tried to hold back people in the crowd, but they began kicking the deputy.

Sheriff's officials said more than 1,000 students were having lunch when the fights broke out.

A video posted on Facebook shows a deputy tussling with female students during the episode. He shoved the female students away as they pushed and hit him, apparently causing one of the girls to fall to the ground.

Santa Barbara sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said in a statement the deputy was "in the process of defending himself."

Hoover told the the Santa Maria Times that sheriff's officials had reviewed the video and concluded that his actions were justified.

The six arrested students -- four boys and two girls -- were booked into juvenile hall on various charges including resisting arrest resulting in injury to a deputy, battery on a peace officer, battery on another student on school grounds, assault on a school employee, possession of a knife on school grounds, possession of marijuana on school grounds, and resisting and obstructing officers in the performance of their duties.

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA  She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
74°