130 Arrested During Riot After Reno Celebration
Police and city officials blamed alcohol and gang members for a weekend riot that erupted downtown, resulting in 130 arrests, a few minor injuries and little property damage.
The melee that spread across downtown began about 10:30 p.m. Saturday and continued through early Sunday. The violence marred the city’s “Hot August Nights” celebration, but occurred after the sanctioned events had ended, officials said.
Police Chief Jerry Hoover said more than 2,000 gang members from throughout the West, many from Central and Northern California, came for the five-day event that features classic cars and sock hops.
Hoover said many of those arrested were 18 to 21 years old. Some were wearing bulletproof vests and carrying firearms, police said.
Trouble began when a few cars overheated in bumper-to-bumper traffic, police said. People began congregating in the streets, and about 1,000 people took over the intersection of 2nd and Sierra streets, many jumping on cars.
The crowd responded to police efforts to clear the intersection by throwing rocks and bottles.
Officers donned riot gear and used dogs and pepper spray to subdue the throngs of people. During the height of the violence, railroad traffic was halted so emergency vehicles could park on the tracks, and people were prevented from leaving downtown casinos and other businesses.
Mayor Jeff Griffin said fewer than 20 people were treated for minor injuries.
Among those arrested were two Reno Gazette-Journal photographers. Both were released from jail Sunday. Hoover would not discuss particulars of their arrest, and the newspaper had no immediate comment.
A separate incident occurred early Sunday at the Peppermill Hotel-Casino south of downtown. Police used smoke, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse that crowd.
Griffin said “hoodlums and thugs and criminals” would not derail the event that draws about 100,000 people each year.