Police: Mt. Eden brawl may be gang-related

Authorities deny stun gun, pepper spray were used to break up fight

By Kristofer Noceda, STAFF WRITER
Article Created: 03/26/2008 02:37:18 AM PDT

HAYWARD — Last week’s lunchtime brawl that saw eight Mt. Eden High School students arrested may have been sparked by gangs, according to a police statement released Tuesday.

“School resource officers assigned to Mt. Eden High School obtained information that a fight may be brewing between two groups of students who represent rival gangs,” police said in the statement. “The officers walked to an area of the campus known to have prior incidents of such fights and encountered two groups of students facing each other in an apparent standoff.”

Police did not have any information on how many students were involved.

“Large groups were beginning to form on both sides,” Lt. Christine Orrey said. “And it appeared they were waiting for a fight.”

School staff and the school’s two resource officers were working to clear the area, the statement said, when one of the students tried to assault another student.

An officer then attempted to arrest the suspect student, but the student violently resisted and then assaulted the officer, according to police. In turn, the officer displayed his stun gun to gain compliance, the statement said.

Students last week said one student was Tasered by police, but police on Tuesday refuted the allegation.

“The Taser was not deployed,” Orrey said.

Furthermore, Orrey also said reports of pepper spray being used were false.

The incident began to escalate when three other students — trying to help the initial suspect from being arrested — grabbed officers and spit on them, the statement said.

Officers then requested emergency backup to arrest the three interfering students and control a crowd, which was escalating in size and unruliness.

Witnesses said more than 100 students were believed to be involved in the incident that reached “near-riot” levels.

The statement reported that students threw water bottles, full milk cartons and food items at the officers.

Students were arrested on suspicion of crimes ranging from inciting a riot, resisting an officer by force, assault with a deadly weapon on a school campus, creating a disturbance on a school campus, and committing a specific crime for the furtherance of an identified criminal street gang, according to police.

Police said the student who initially assaulted the officer is a recent transfer from a private school in San Jose.

That student, a 16-year-old with a Hayward address, has a prior arrest for auto theft and possession of a deadly weapon, police said.

He was taken to juvenile hall. The two school resource officers suffered minor injuries. No information was available regarding the other students who were arrested.

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