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School Increases Security After Fracas : Oxnard: Students say the rumble started after gang signs were flashed.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police patrols around Oxnard High School were increased and campus security was tightened Thursday in the aftermath of a brawl that students described as a rumble between two gangs--an account that clashed with official reports of a “scuffle” without gang involvement.

“According to them it was not a gang fight,” said sophomore Daniel Licari, referring to school administrators. “But according to everyone else who was watching it, it was.”

The story told by students on campus Thursday was that the fight occurred after a group called the Young Black Mafia, described as a black gang, and members of the Colonia Chiques , a Latino gang, flashed gang signs at each other Wednesday during a lunch break.

“We just all started rumbling with the black guys,” said Joe Robles, 18, a self-proclaimed member of the Colonia Chiques . “It just happened.”

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Sofia Campos, a 15-year-old student who was in the gym at the time, said the black gang members were on one side of the room and the Latinos on the other. She said the blacks then got up and started walking to the other side of the room. The fight soon began.

During the fight, which involved between 20 and 50 students, the two groups used pipes and sticks to hit each other, students said. Some students watching the fight were also attacked, the students said.

“It started off in gangs but went off into races,” Campos said. “The blacks started hitting any Mexicans.”

Gang members then ran through the school, continuing to fight in different locations on campus, students said. But district officials said the fight was blown out of proportion.

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“When it starts in a contained place with lots of onlookers, it looks a lot worse than it is,” said Gary Davis, assistant superintendent of the Oxnard Union High School District.

“We’re not calling it gang-related and I don’t know if it was racially motivated,” Davis said.

Davis, who referred to the fight as a “scuffle,” said it broke out between two students, probably a black and a Latino, as 300 to 400 teen-agers gathered in the gym for lunch to keep out of the rain.

The altercation spread to between 12 and 15 other students and a school official called police to ensure that the fighting did not get out of control, officials said.

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When 10 police officers arrived, they found that the gym had already been cleared and calmed, police said. One 16-year-old was arrested and charged with inciting a riot, police said.

Oxnard police said they have not been able to determine if the fight was gang-related.

Administrators spent Wednesday night and most of Thursday trying to identify the students involved in the fight and remove them from campus, Davis said. They were aided by pictures of the fight taken by school officials who grabbed cameras that are kept available for use in such instances, he said.

Those pictures also revealed that at least one student had a pipe. Davis said the district has further information that one student used the arm of a chair in the fight.

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He said the students involved will either be suspended or expelled depending on their level of participation in the fight.

Seven administrators from the district office spent Thursday patrolling the high school campus and police units were added to guard against altercations in the surrounding neighborhood, officials said.

“We’ve got three guys out right now and all we’re doing is circling and looking for groups of kids meeting,” said Oxnard Police Officer Dan Eckstrom, one of the patrolmen assigned to the area.


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