UPDATE: 4 juveniles, 1 adult, arrested after wild WVHS melee that caused city-wide response
UPDATED: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 6 p.m.
See original story, photos, and videos below.
HEMET — Officials have begun releasing information about a wild melee that happened today at Hemet’s West Valley High School and Hemet PD reported this evening that four people, including four juvenile and one adult, were arrested and later booked on a variety of charges related to the brawl. All those arrested are students at the school, according to officials.
Although many parents, students, and even school employees, have come forward with speculation that a new lunch schedule – implemented for the first time today – may have contributed to tension that ultimately led to this afternoon’s violence, officials have made no mention of the altered schedule or if it might have been a contributing factor in the violent fight.
LEADING THE RCNS HEADLINES:
Hemet Police Lt. Eric Dickson reported this evening that today’s incident started “when several students began fighting with each other” on the school’s campus.
Students and other witnesses, who earlier reported the fighting broke out within the school’s lunch area, later said the incident began when numerous students waiting for food began pushing and shoving. According to those witnesses, the violence quickly escalated – first with food, and then fists, being thrown.
Although school staff and the officer assigned as the campus school resource officer quickly responded and attempted to “defuse the fight,” things soon spiraled out of control after the officer “saw one student preparing to assault another and grabbed her arm, telling her to stop,” Dickson explained.
“The student began yelling at the officer and pulling away from him,” Dickson continued. “The officer and the student fell to the ground and another student ran up and began kicking and punching the officer in the back.”
The attack on the officer caused him to request priority, emergency assistance and more than a dozen patrol and motor officers, detectives, special teams’ members, and patrol supervisors, rushed to the school from around the city.
“Within minutes, several Hemet Police Officers arrived on scene and began dispersing the crowd,” Dickson explained.
Four juvenile students and one adult student were ultimately arrested for a variety of charges including “assaulting school staff, assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, and resisting arrest by threat or violence,” according to Dickson.
The juveniles were later transported to Riverside County Juvenile Hall and the adult was transported and booked into Riverside County Jail.
There were no significant injuries reported, according to Dickson, who said no further information about the violent incident or Hemet PD’s ongoing investigation will be released at this time.
Officers have been reviewing different videos of the incident shot mostly by students and have requested that copies of all videos be turned over to Hemet PD.
Anyone with additional information regarding this incident or who has video of today’s fighting is encouraged to contact Hemet PD at (951) 765-2400. Callers and those with video footage can remain anonymous.
Original Story: BREAKING: City-wide response called for wild WVHS melee – multiple students detained
HEMET — Things are beginning to calm down at Hemet’s West Valley High School after a melee involving as many as 20 students, a school resource officer, school administrators, and other school employees. The brawl happened in the school’s lunch area earlier this afternoon, Wednesday, Oct. 17.
One parent who was at the school when the violence erupted later told RCNS that tension and frustration possibly caused by a new lunch schedule – rolled out for the first time today – may have led to tensions that escalated into the brawl.
School officials have not yet made any public comment or statement about the fight that brought both patrol and motor officers, detectives, special teams’ members, and patrol supervisors rushing to the school from around the city.
Several handcuffed students were later seen being led to and placed inside patrol vehicles. Although multiple students were eventually transported to Hemet PD for further investigation, it was not immediately known if any arrests had been made related to the incident.
Word of today’s melee first came to light around 1:15 p.m., when a City of Hemet police officer – believed to be the school resource officer for the campus – put out a request for back up due to a fight inside the school’s lunch area.
Official radio traffic at the time indicated that although the officer and school administrators quickly got the first fight under control, had two students detained, and initially cancelled incoming units; a few minutes later he put out a priority radio call for emergency assistance, reporting he was attacked by a “heavy-set, black, female, juvenile, wearing all black.”
Moments later Hemet PD’s emergency dispatch center was flooded with calls reporting the fight and radio traffic indicated the situation had spiraled out of control, with 20 or more students fighting. Yelling and screaming could be heard over the officer’s radio and his call for help – requesting any and all available area officers – brought officials racing to the campus.
One video shot by a student during the brawl and later obtained by Hemet Valley Incidents and shared below, showed countless students actively fighting, as a lone officer and school employees rush into the melee attempting to quell the violence. A hundred or more other screaming students can be seen first crowding around the brawling students and officer and then fully encircling the officer as he takes one of the juvenile combatants down to the ground.
Within moments more than a dozen officers from around the city began converging on the scene with lights flashing and sirens blaring.
Another video shot by a student, which can also be seen below, showed officers on foot and on motorcycles racing onto the campus and heading into the school’s lunch area.
Fire and rescue personnel were also dispatched to the area, but remained off the campus until officers were able to give the all clear.
A short time later area residents who had flocked to the school after hearing the sirens and commotion reported seeing several handcuffed students being placed into patrol vehicles.
About ten minutes later, while officials were investigating the cause of the brawl and interviewing witnesses, an officer radioed that one of the female juveniles in custody was banging her head on his patrol car window. A girl could be heard screaming incoherently in the background over the officer’s radio.
Although the initial officer was reportedly kicked and battered during the incident, he was uninjured and no other officers, school staff, or students were believed injured during the melee.
“The staff were all involved trying to break it up,” one parent, who requested to remain anonymous, later told RCNS. “Even secretaries ran from the office to try and help break up the fight.”
According to the witness, who had been inside the school’s office and saw parts of the chaos, a new lunch schedule – rolled out that very day – may have led to tension, that ultimately led to the fight.
The new schedule changed the school’s existing staggered lunch program and brought all students together for one lunch period, all at the same time.
Other parents interviewed at the scene and after the fight also speculated that the new lunch schedule may have added to tension between students not accustomed to longer lunch lines, as well as eating together and sharing the same indoor and outdoor eating areas.
“Instead of two separate lunches with fewer kids, they combined the lunches so every single student was out at lunch at the same time today,” the mother continued. “(The principle) tried it for the first time today for late-start Wednesday.”
“My friend in the office said it was a horrible call and my son this morning literally said the same thing. He said he was going to eat lunch in the football room so he didn’t have to be so crowded.”
Citing their ongoing investigation, neither Hemet PD or WVHS administrators have released any information regarding this incident or what may have led to the violence. Hemet PD later said they would be putting out a press release, once their initial on-scene investigation was concluded.
This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 14 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.