CityWalk Tightening Security in Wake of Melee : Tourism: Deputies used pepper spray Friday to break up a fight. Police say no passersby were endangered, but fantasy streetscape’s operators say they will not tolerate disturbances.
It was built to create a safe and highly stylized version of a Los Angeles block, with upscale restaurants and shops.
But real-life violence erupted Friday night at the $100-million fantasy streetscape in Universal City known as CityWalk. Sheriff’s deputies used pepper spray to break up a melee between alleged gang members who fought each other with fists and chairs.
Authorities said they are increasing security at the year-old tourist attraction that was engineered and built by entertainment giant MCA. The company had already toughened its rules for visitors after several fights last summer.
CityWalk officials said Saturday that they intend to keep a tight rein on the simulated street.
“We aren’t going to stand for any kind of disturbance at CityWalk whatsoever,” said Joan Bullard, a spokeswoman for Universal Studios Hollywood, which operates the attraction. “We’ll do whatever it takes.”
The fight and eight arrests Friday night never endangered passersby, said Sgt. Michael Parker, who described it as “an isolated incident.”
The trouble began when three of the men started to hit and kick another man. A deputy standing less than 100 yards away called for backup assistance and then ran over to stop the fight.
But as deputies were preparing to take away the four men, four others--said to be friends of the victim--began to attack their rivals with chairs. None of the deputies were targeted by the chairs, but they had to use pepper spray to break up the fight.
No one was injured in the incident and none of the suspects were carrying weapons, authorities said.
Six men were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. They were identified as Charvel Hamilton, Ryan Monte, and Dereck Washington, all 18; Theodore Montgomery, 19; Damien Roe, 20, and Timothy Clem, 21.
A juvenile, 15, was arrested for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon, and a 17-year-old was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor battery. All but the 17-year-old were in custody Saturday, Parker said. All eight are from Los Angeles.
More than 2 million visitors have come to Universal’s CityWalk since it opened to great fanfare a year ago. Some criticized the attraction, saying it tried too hard to be an idealized vision of Los Angeles, an elitist enclave without any of the city’s urban troubles.
Last fall, MCA and its private security guards began enforcing a strict code of conduct--forbidding visitors, for example, to cuss or wear baseball caps backward--to reverse a growing fear that gang members had discovered the promenade.
Last August, a fight between gang members and members of the Los Angeles Valley College football team sent visitors fleeing for cover, sheriff’s reports said.
In September, members of two gangs fought over a girlfriend in front of Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant at CityWalk, according to sheriff’s reports. There were no arrests.
Later that month, an 18-year-old Los Angeles man was stabbed in one of the theaters adjacent to CityWalk. His attackers fled before sheriff’s deputies arrived.