Gang Fight Erupts at Pizza Parlor

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Several people were injured, one critically, when a large fight broke out Sunday night between rival gang members at a Port Hueneme pizza parlor packed with families and children.

The injured were being treated at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, Port Hueneme Police Cmdr. Jerry Beck said.

"The place was packed and we got reports that up to 100 people were involved," said Beck, who had left the restaurant about 15 minutes before the fight after picking up his daughter, who works there.

Two men were stabbed in the fight. One was in critical condition and the other suffered moderate injuries, police said.

Others injured were gang members and restaurant patrons, who suffered cuts and bruises from tables, chairs, beer mugs and beer bottles that were hurled and shattered during the melee, police said.

The fight started shortly after 6 p.m. at Toppers Pizza Place, a large chain restaurant in a busy strip mall in the 600 block of West Channel Islands Boulevard, a few blocks from Oxnard Harbor.

According to several witnesses, dozens of young men from two rival Oxnard street gangs were drinking beer and eating pizza when shouting started. Soon, objects were thrown.

"There was a lot of flying glass and people were just running to get out of there," said Anna Castillo of Oxnard, who was eating dinner with three friends and two young children.

Patrons said that Toppers has been a popular place to watch Los Angeles Lakers basketball. At the time of the fight, diners were watching the Lakers play the Philadelphia 76ers in the third game of the NBA Finals.

Marisa Lopez of Oxnard was in the video game area when tables and chairs started flying. Someone standing near her was struck with glass, she said.

"I couldn't get out because of everything that was going on," Lopez said, adding that several older patrons were also stuck in the back of the restaurant and unable to leave during the brawl.

Beck said officers also were investigating reports of a gunshot victim and a person who might have been struck by a car in the parking lot. When officers arrived, he said, they found one stabbing victim in the front of the business and another who had collapsed behind the restaurant.

Late Sunday night, a dozen officers from Port Hueneme and Oxnard police departments were interviewing witnesses, including two men who were involved in the fight and detained for questioning, Beck said. No arrests had been made by late Sunday.

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