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Lifeguard attacked on Venice pier poured water on group, video shows

Beachgoers, lifeguard scuffle at Venice Beach.

Moments before a lifeguard was pummeled on the Venice Beach pier last week he poured a bucket of water on two of his assailants, a new video of the incident shows.

The video, recorded by two beachgoers on the sand some distance away from the attack and obtained by The Times, shows several people exchanging loud, unintelligible words with a lifeguard standing on the tower before one attempts to climb the tower ladder.

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Another person pulls the climber down before he reaches the top and the lifeguard goes into his tower – apparently to call authorities, said Los Angeles County lifeguard Capt. Kenichi Haskett, who reviewed the footage.

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After emerging from the tower, the confrontation between the lifeguard and group below continued at the foot of the ladder, the video showed. Though the words can’t be made out, the video shows the woman gesturing up to the lifeguard with both arms. A second later, in one swift motion, the lifeguard grabs a bucket full of water at his feet  and pours it on a woman and a man standing next to her.

“I’m assuming it was a way to cool them down. I think that was the desired effect, in my personal opinion. But I’m not speaking for the department,” Haskett told The Times on Monday.

But it didn’t cool the pair down. The drenched woman was visibly agitated and the man next to her, also doused with water, is seen putting her in a bear hug to hold her back.

“I thought it was kind of funny. They were arguing, they were trying to climb up so he just came out and poured water on them,” chuckled Meagan Shupert, who recorded the incident while she, her mother and others at the beach looked on. “I would be pissed if a guy threw water on me.”

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Indeed, the group appeared angry in the video. Witnesses said they seemed intoxicated.

Not long after drenching two of the people with water, the lifeguard decided to step down from the tower.

He was immediately knocked down with a punch and then attacked by the drenched woman, the man who was next to her and the man who appeared to first try to climb the ladder.

“This is the first time something like this has happened that I can recall,” Haskett told The Times last week.

Another video – one taken by a witness on the pier just a few feet from the confrontation that went viral last week – shows what happened next.

The two men swing wildly at the lifeguard the moment he is off the ladder. He’s knocked down but gets up and fights back, exchanging blows with one of the men while a bystander wielding an orange cone steps in and swings at one of the lifeguard’s attackers.

A third video, from a different angle, shows a woman kicking at the lifeguard’s head when he is on the ground trying to get up.

Two other lifeguards eventually showed up and broke up the fight, the videos show. A recording of the fight’s aftermath showed one of the three fight suspects breathing heavily, lying on his back, his face covered in blood.

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The confrontation occurred about 7:15 p.m. Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The lifeguard drove himself to the hospital after the fight; he is waiting for results to learn if he broke his hand, Haskett said. One of the lifeguard’s alleged attackers was also taken to the hospital for medical treatment, police said.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department will conduct an investigation into the incident, including the actions of the lifeguard, which is standard, Haskett said. Police are conducting their own inquiry.

On Friday, the LAPD identified the two men seen attacking the lifeguard as Harutiun Balyan, 30, and Ara Sarkisyan, 28. The woman was identified as Arusiak Gekchyan, 28. All three were arrested on suspicion of battery on an executive officer, a felony. They have been freed on bail, LAPD officials said.

The lifeguard is currently on paid medical leave because of his hand injury. Haskett said the argument began when the lifeguard asked one of the people to put out a cigarette because smoking is prohibited on the Venice pier.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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