Police use pepper spray on unruly crowd at Kaaboo music festival

Police at the Kaaboo music festival in Del Mar.

Police at the Kaaboo music festival in Del Mar.

(Chadd Cady)

Trouble marred the Kaaboo music festival in Del Mar on Saturday night as concertgoers tried to force their way into an at-capacity venue, officials said.

Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Moreno said attendees became unruly just after 11 p.m. when they were told that Encore, the venue where rapper Ludacris and DJ Steve Aoki were set to perform, was full.

Several individuals got into an altercation with deputies manning the entrance, Moreno said. One deputy used pepper spray to help disperse the crowd. Officials in a sheriff’s helicopter, flying over the location, ordered attendees to clear the area.

It took around 30 deputies about 10 minutes to quell the commotion, the lieutenant said. Four people were arrested in connection with the incident. He didn’t say what they were suspected of.


Some people were pushing through the crowd in an attempt to get toward the entrance, but no fights broke out, Moreno said. No one was injured.

One woman caught in the fray described the scene as “extremely dangerous.”

“It was a complete catastrophe,” said Celeste Lehmann, who lives in Newport Beach. “It was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced.”

She said two concerts ended at the same time — Aerosmith and the Chainsmokers — and thousands of people streamed to the Encore venue at the same time.

A maze of metal gates that funneled people toward the entrance soon felt like a trap, she said.

“People were pushing us from the back and once you got in, you couldn’t get out,” she said.

She and her sister were “still shaken up from it,” she added.

She said she didn’t see any nearby security guards and nearly called 911. The siblings ended up hopping over one of the barricades to escape the swell of people.

A spokesperson with the event apologized to those who weren’t able to get into Encore, explaining the venue was at capacity.

Winkley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.