Incensed by the brutal Halloween night attack by a mob of teen-agers on two of their neighbors, more than 100 residents of this exclusive, gated community gathered Wednesday to demand better police protection and the arrests of the attackers.
"I am in a cold rage," Ron Greek, co-chairman of the Coto Citizens Advisory Council, a residents' group, told the standing-room-only crowd at the Coto Valley Country Club. "We've played ostrich out here too long, thinking that we had a pristine community free of urban problems. We're going to pursue this until the perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law; we're going to make an example of them so that this will never happen again."
The meeting had been called in response to separate attacks Monday night on race car driver Rocky Moran, 44, and attorney Bernard Moran (no relation), 45, who live in the gated community.
Rocky Moran sustained a dislocated shoulder, while Bernard Moran is nursing a broken rib, broken ankle, two battered knees, bruised hips and a black eye. The two men, both over 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, confronted the youths who were blocking their cars as the men tried to ferry their own children home from trick-or-treating.
Speaking for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, Lt. Bob NeSmith told the residents Wednesday that six investigators and a sergeant had been assigned to the case full time.
"This is a serious situation," he said. "This community is running amok with people doing whatever they want to be doing. The Sheriff's Department takes this very seriously."
As of Wednesday night, he said, sheriff's investigators had identified five teen-agers they plan to question about the violence. Those deemed responsible, he said, could be charged with felony assault or assault with a deadly weapon. Eventually, NeSmith said, investigators plan to talk to as many members of the teen-age mob, which he estimated at 100, as possible.
"These are kids who live here," he said. "A hundred kids just didn't jump over the fence."
Some residents said Wednesday that teen-age belligerence is a longstanding problem in the community.
"It's like we're held hostage in here," said one, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. "I feel like I'm living in Cuba or Russia."
Said another, who also did not want to be identified: "My reaction was one of horror, but not surprise. . . . The kids who live here have done damage to this golf course many, many times."
Resident Marsha Lassen, 48, said she believed that many of the youths who participated in the attack lived in the community, where houses sell for up to $10 million, or opened the gates to those who didn't.
"My reaction is one of grave disappointment," Lassen said. "But you know, I thought it was bound to happen sooner or later. Here we are, living in this community that we moved to because we longed to be safe, and now, we aren't. You know what can be done about this? Nothing. Because none of these parents will do anything about it."
Karen Barkovitz, who does not live in the community but plays golf at its course, said earlier Wednesday: "You know what the problem is now? These kids are too rich and too spoiled to know better, and that's their parents' fault. Had my son attacked an adult, he never would have heard the end of it."
Bernard Moran was still angry almost 48 hours after the attack as he sat in his living room Wednesday afternoon nursing a wounded body and numerous swollen joints. Getting up from his chair, he could barely walk. A broken rib didn't make it easier.
"The worst thing they could do now would be to come after me or my family. I want them to know: That will not be a good thing."
Bernard Moran said his memory of the attack is hazy. But he remembers being attacked by at least nine rock-wielding teen-agers, who took offense to Moran confronting them for blocking the street and then "smashed me with a combination of fists and rocks."
"If these kids want to play in an adult world, they're going to have to take adult responsibility," said Moran, who has not ruled out taking legal action against the parents of the teens.
He said the attack lasted about a minute "that felt like four hours" and was witnessed by "dozens" of other residents, most of whom were "terrified mothers taking their little ones home from trick-or-treating." He said the mob was composed of males and females but that he was attacked only by males.
He said his 13-year-old daughter had heard students at the Santa Margarita intermediate school brag about the attack.
Rocky Moran, who along with Bernard Moran recounted his ordeal for the rapt audience Wednesday night with one arm in a sling, said, "It was a melee. They just pummeled me."