aCollege Beach Weekend 2013 lead to nearly 150 arrests over the weekend as close to 40,000 people descended on the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Officials in Virginia Beach state that they were not prepared for the crowds or the crime.
Authorities confirm they received 325 calls to 911 reporting fighting, drug use, property destruction, shootings, stabbings, robberies, and general disorderly conduct. There were at least eight confirmed reports of injury.
As reported by the Washington Post, the event was planned as a celebration for students at several local universities. Flyers and social media networks spread the word, offering discounts on hotels and local businesses.
Virginia Beach police officers heard rumors, but had no idea how big the party was going to be. Eighty-eight officers were initially planned for the event, but more were called in as the crowds grew.
Local business owners have complained that the droves of people were destroying property and shoplifting. Mona Liza Solis, who works at a local 7-Eleven, reports that at one point the store was filled with over 100 people. Employees tried to limit them number of customers, but they pushed their way inside.
Organizers deny anything happened at their "organized" event but can't deny that it attracted the undesirable element. There were 325 calls to police with 181 arrests and tickets.
The following is a statement from Beach Week organizers:
We stand with all people of good will in the condemnation of the violent and tragic events this past weekend in the city of Virginia Beach, Va. that took place near the oceanfront. We the organizers of "Beach Weekend" disavow any connection to these events and repudiate the perpetrators. The organizers of "Beach Weekend" worked very diligently to put together 7 quality events for young professionals. Months of planning went into ensuring everyone participating would have a safe, fun and enjoyable experience taking in all that the city of Virginia Beach has to offer. We also factored in the benefits to the business owners from the influx of visitors that "Beach Weekend" would bring. It was our indefatigable effort to insure appropriate security and as a result there were no fights, shootings, or stabbings at any of our sponsored events or venues. The reports have been misleading and inaccurate.
Business owners are pissed.
Some business owners say the weekend was reminiscent of Greekfest, a Labor Day party for students from historically black colleges in 1989 that led to rioting, looting and a National Guard presence at the Oceanfront. Business owners said there were uncontrollable crowds, fighting, open-air drinking and marijuana use. City leaders disputed that assessment, saying those involved were likely local residents attracted to the event, and not college students.
“The tenor of this crowd was a lot different than the tenor of the crowds that we faced at Greekfest, and I think our strategy was a little different this time,” Dean said. “It was more of a feel that we were there with the crowd this time as opposed to we were there opposing the crowd.”
Rosalind Campbell, head manager of the Sunsations shop, said the crowd was disrespectful, vulgar and belligerent. When a Sunsations saleswoman left to get dinner, she was groped in the street by a stranger and quickly returned, Campbell said.
Later on, fights broke out near her store and police used pepper spray, making her and a co-worker sick.
A few blocks away, a 7-Eleven was flooded with 100 people at time and items were stolen, according Mona Liza Solis, who worked that Saturday night. Solis said when employees tried to let just 10 customers in at a time, those waiting outside pushed and pounded the doors.
At Flipper McCoy’s arcade, people poured in to use the bathrooms and plug in their cellphones, trashing the bathrooms, according to Joe Horton, the arcade’s operations manager. When Horton closed the bathrooms, people started urinating on the carpet and outside in an alley, he said.
“The language and the behavior was just atrocious,” Horton said.
Dean and police Chief Jim Cervera were at the Oceanfront when the first shots rang out shortly before 11:30 p.m. on Saturday in front of closed shops on Atlantic Avenue. Police were helping the victim when somebody was stabbed near a Dairy Queen three blocks away. The incidents didn’t seem to be connected, Dean said.
Then you have ignorant people like this who think this is all acceptable behavior.
"I saw two girls fighting I don't know why," Baltimore resident Kharizma Jackson said. "I don't know what happened."
"There was a lot of drama and a few gunshots too," Washington DC resident Corey Martin added.
In the midst of the college inspired parties and heavy police presence, police say there were three shootings, two stabbings and three robberies during the overnight hours Saturday to early Sunday. City officials estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people came down to the Oceanfront for Beach Week, and there were more than 80 officers keeping watch.
The event attracts a lot of out-of-towners like Jackson who traveled from Baltimore for the weekend event. She says she's unfazed by all the violence.
"I think it's still fun," Jackson said. "It happens when you get a lot of people together this stuff happens everywhere you go. It's like that."
The local papers like the Virginian Pilot is being accused again of black washing the event so they don't appear racist.