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Deltopia spring-break melee video may help ID offenders, deputies say

Santa Barbara County authorities plan to review video recorded by recently installed surveillance cameras of Deltopia, a spring-break ritual that dissolved into chaos, leaving a sheriff’s deputy injured and more than 100 people arrested.

Sheriff’s deputies said the surveillance video should help them identify the worst offenders in Saturday’s unrest.

UC Santa Barbara officials installed surveillance cameras after a gang rape in February and gave six to the Sheriff’s Department to put up before Deltopia, a loosely organized spring break party.

It was “really kind of a product of spontaneity and fueled by Facebook and social media,” Sheriff Bill Brown said.

“With the reputation of a big party in Isla Vista, instead of it being handed off to a few people, it goes viral and we get literally hundreds of thousands who may see the message and ultimately thousands who decide to come to Isla Vista. ... The place is just not set up for it.”

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Doreen Farr said that officials had already toughened laws after other parties got out of control but that the university community needs to do more.

“It’s clear that unsponsored events just have to end,” she said. "When you have thousands of people congregate, up to 15,000, it’s just inviting chaos.”

Authorities have not released the names of those arrested, or indicated the specific charges they might face.

Though many blamed outsiders for the misbehavior, UC Santa Barbara student association President Jonathan Abboud and Vice President Kyley Scarlet said locals -- many of them UC Santa Barbara students -- had no one to blame but themselves.

"It is time to stop the habit of pushing the blame onto figurative and literal out-of-towners and take ownership of Isla Vista's future," the leaders said in their message to the student body.

Isla Vista is only about half of a square mile but houses 23,000 residents. On weekends, the population can swell to 40,000, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

An estimated 15,000 people attended the event, which skidded into violence after 9:30 p.m., when sheriff's deputies were breaking up a fight in the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive and trying to make an arrest. That's when a deputy was hit in the head with a backpack full of liquor bottles, sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.

The deputy's head injury required 20 stitches, Hoover said.


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