LODI — Outnumbered police officers called in outside assistance Saturday to help break up a melee between up to 200 soccer fans — many armed with bats and golf clubs — outside the Grape Bowl, a Lodi police spokesman said.
Sgt. Steve Maynard said that when he arrived at the scene that initially was described as a riot, “There were 150 to 200 people fighting in the streets. It completely shut down North Stockton Street. I saw at least 50 little skirmishes going on.”
Maynard said there were multiple casualties, including one man who was stabbed and cut and at least three others with head wounds from being beaten by combatants armed with golf clubs. All ended up going to a hospital for treatment.
“There was definitely a skirmish line set up with two opposing forces on either side,” Maynard said. “These people showed up to a soccer match with baseball bats, golf clubs and sticks. They were ready to fight.”
The city’s parks department had rented out the Grape Bowl to a promoter for an adult senior soccer match between Leyendas De Las Chivas and Leyendas De La America. Maynard said his department had not been informed of the event but later learned “these were two rival teams that have a history of violence. There is a riot after every one of these games.”
Saturday, however, the fighting broke out before the start of the match.
“They did have private security and we were very thankful to have them there,” Maynard said. “They were quite a bit of help breaking up fights and moving people out. We are very appreciative.”
The first two police officers on scene quickly realized they would need help. Within minutes, 10 more Lodi police officers arrived along with 14 San Joaquin County sheriff’s deputies and six California Highway Patrol officers.
After authorities arrived, order was restored in about 15 minutes, Maynard said, noting it took another 35 minutes to clear people away from the venue.
“There were no problems inside the Grape Bowl where the game proceeded,” he said. But the normal 60-minute match was shortened to 20 minutes.
Maynard said no arrests were made because “nobody could identify who were the primary aggressors.” Numerous people were filming video of the fighting and police would like to see all of it, especially if it shows the victim being stabbed.
Maynard asked that anyone with information or video from Saturday’s fighting contact Lodi police at (209) 333-6727 or Lodi Crime Stoppers at (209) 369-2746. Crime Stoppers pays rewards and callers can remain anonymous.
Contact reporter Joe Goldeen at (209) 546-8278 or email@example.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/goldeenblog and on Twitter @JoeGoldeen.