Crowd Vandalizes Store Near Nightclub : Violence: A melee breaks out after fans are turned away from a sold-out rap concert at the Arena in Hollywood.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

About 300 club-goers who had been turned away from a sold-out Hollywood rap concert vandalized a newly reopened convenience store that had been destroyed in last year's riots.

The melee began early Tuesday after the crowd was denied entrance to the Arena Nightclub on Santa Monica Boulevard where a rap group, the Pharcyde, was performing, police said.

More than 35 police officers in riot gear were called in to break up rock-throwing and a free-for-all among the crowd. A security guard was hurt in the incident, and the front door and large windows at a 7-Eleven store were broken. Police reported hearing gunfire, but no weapons were discovered and no arrests were made.

It was the second time during the holiday weekend that police had to disperse an unruly crowd outside a Hollywood club. Early Saturday, police broke up a post-rap-show party at the Palace on Vine Street. One man was arrested on suspicion of throwing a bottle at a police officer and charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

The fighting Tuesday began in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven, located one door west of the Arena at Las Palmas Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. People had been drinking in the parking lot, police said.

"I think what set them off was that we refused a sale of alcohol to a minor, and he went out and told his friends," store owner Terry Kelly said.

The store's security guard was injured by rocks and bricks that hit him in the head and hands, Sgt. James Litton said.

Kelly's store was one of eight 7-Eleven stores burned down in last year's riots. It had just reopened.

Kelly, who has been in business at the corner for 13 years, said he was discouraged by Tuesday's incident and blamed the violence on rap fans who were unable to get into the show.

Arena owner Gene La Pietra, however, defended his club's booking record. "We've been open for three years and we've never had any problems," La Pietra said. "It's like anything else where a small group of people ruins it for everyone."

Some Los Angeles nightclubs and concert halls will not book rap acts for fear of violence. The most recent violent incident occurred in April at Magic Mountain, which sponsored a concert by the female rap trio TLC.

Alan Shuman, president of the Hollywood Palladium, said: "We haven't had rap, hip-hop or heavy metal concerts in the last five months."

The Palladium closed in February after a five-year period plagued with violent incidents. It reopened eight weeks later under new management with stricter booking guidelines.

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