5 minors arrested in Memorial Day melee between 30 young people and 3 Marines

People at the beach and pier in San Clemente
Three off-duty Marines were kicked and punched by 30 teenagers and young adults near the San Clemente Pier on Friday night, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Five minors were arrested Tuesday after a melee near the San Clemente Pier over Memorial Day weekend in which a group of 30 teens and young adults pummeled three off-duty Marines, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Orange County deputies arrested the five juveniles — four boys and one girl — on suspicion of felony assault and booked them into Orange County Juvenile Hall, authorities said. San Clemente Mayor Chris Duncan had previously said nine minors were arrested in connection with the incident.

The suspects’ identities have been withheld because they are minors.

The Marines were kicked and punched by the group late Friday, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.


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May 12, 2023

An altercation broke out between the Marines and young people at about 9:50 p.m., the Sheriff’s Department said. Authorities did not say what caused the fight, but one of the Marines told KCBS-TV Channel 2 that it started after he asked the other group to stop lighting fireworks at the beach because firework debris had hit him in the face.

Video obtained by KTLA-TV Channel 5 shows three Marines walking away from the group of young people. The video then shows someone sucker-punching a Marine from behind before the Marine charges at the group. A melee ensues, and at least two Marines are shown on the ground, curled up in the fetal position, with people in the crowd striking them in the head and upper body before two adults intervene and stop the beatings.

“The barbaric assault on off-duty Marines at the San Clemente Pier goes against everything we stand for in San Clemente, and it’s no excuse that teenagers were involved,” Duncan said. “I want to assure our community, especially our military and veteran community, that we take this matter with the utmost seriousness and will not tolerate this kind of behavior in our city.”

The Los Angeles National Cemetery hosted its first public Memorial Day event since 2019, after halting for the pandemic.

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“The fact that this incident occurred over Memorial Day weekend is particularly tragic,” Duncan added.

The Orange County Fire Authority treated the Marines at the scene, but they all refused to be transported to a hospital, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The Marines had minor to moderate injuries, said Sgt. Mike Woodruff, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department.

A spokesperson at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton said they were aware of the incident involving the three Marines but would not provide additional details about the ongoing investigation.


Anyone with information about the incident can contact the Sheriff’s Department at (949) 770-6011.