STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS13) — Four deputies were injured, a horse was punched in the face and at least five people were arrested in a scuffle on the last night of the Stanislaus County Fair.
It started around 9:45 p.m. near the beer garden on one of the busiest nights of the fair.
“We have a lot of families and there were a lot of people here with children,” said fair spokesperson Adrenna Alkhas.
Thousands of people gathered to see popular Latin singer-songwriter Roberto Tapia take the stage. While the majority of the crowd enjoyed the show, fair officials said a fight broke out shortly after one of the beer booths closed approximately 45 minutes early.
“It was a busy night so they may have run out so they were letting people know there are other beer booths open,” said Alkhas.
As deputies directed people toward a line at the nearby Cantina beer booth, deputies said they spotted some potential gang members in the crowd.
“They appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and they were being asked to leave,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff Spokesperson Josh Clayton.
Clayton said one of the men was wearing gang clothing and appeared to be trying to start fights.
“The fair has zero-tolerance for gang attire and indicia,” said.
While deputies were talking with the man, Clayton said a second suspect later identified as 25-year-old Ismael Flores of Ceres, walked up and started throwing punches.
“At that point, he went up and attacked one of our deputies,” said Clayton.
That’s when he said the sheriff’s mounted unit surrounded the group.
“Those horses are very effective for creating a barrier that insulates the crowd from the deputies who have to deal with whatever situation is going on. They basically form a circle around whatever is going on and the horse provides protection,” he said.
Clayton said Flores hit two of the deputies as more people in the crowd got involved. Another man, Armando Nunez, struck a sheriff’s department horse in the face.
“The fight lasted about 30 seconds to a minute, but the crowd control took a long amount of time, about 15-20 minutes to actually get the crowd under control so those involved could be moved to the command post for processing and transport to jail and medical treatment,” Clayton said.
A total of four deputies were injured.
“The injuries range from simple abrasions to bruises and scrapes, but we did have one deputy who actually dislocated his shoulder. He’s okay,” said Clayton.
Five people were arrested on charges including assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest and being drunk in public, but fair officials said the show went on.
“It was the last day of fair and we wanted people to enjoy themselves and they did because our sheriff’s department handled it so well,” said Alkhas. “They escorted them out and people were still here enjoying themselves.
She praised the sheriff’s office for their quick response before the fight got out of control.
“It could happen anywhere, but our sheriffs are stationed here so they immediately respond to things within seconds so they do not allow for things to escalate and for our families not to feel safe,” she said.