Four law enforcement officers, including Patterson Police Chief Marc Nuno, sustained relatively minor injuries during a large fight shortly before 10 p.m. on Sunday, the last, and also busiest, night of the Fair. At least five people were arrested in the incident.
Nuno, who has been responsible for law enforcement operations during the Fair, said a standing-room-only crowd was on hand for recording artist Roberto Tapia. He emphasized that there had been no issues with anyone in attendance for that event, nor with any of the other regular Fair goers.
At about 9:45 p.m., one of the beer booths ran out of beer, and elected not to tap another keg so close to the 10:30 cutoff time (which can cost a few hundred dollars, Nuno said). This caused longer lines at the remaining booths.
While officers were managing the line at one nearby, they spotted someone wearing gang attire, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and was trying to start fights. As they were attending to that situation, another alleged gang member approached and also began throwing punches, hitting two of the deputies and a horse.
Several smaller fights were started by people with gang-related tattoos who were wearing gang colors, despite the Fair’s strict zero-tolerance policy for gang colors and indicia. Nuno said they should not have been let in, and he did not have information as to how they had gained access to the Fairgrounds.
The fights snowballed, and 20 to 30 law enforcement officers responded, Nuno said, including all who were assigned to the Fair, along with patrol deputies, Turlock Police and the California Highway Patrol.
The brawl lasted five to 10 minutes, and in that time, four officers suffered scrapes and bruises, one sustained a dislocated shoulder, and one of the mounted deputies’ horses was punched by one of the suspects.
The suspect who hit the horse “wouldn’t submit,” Chief Nuno said, and in the struggle to get him subdued and handcuffed, Nuno sustained an abrasion and a scratch to one eye, as well as a baton strike to the side of the head. None of the injuries law enforcement officers sustained were serious.
Those arrested face charges of assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest and being drunk in public.
No further information on this incident is available.