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Fight central near Hollywood Boulevard

BY REGINA ZILBERMINTS | MAY 14, 2009 7:32 AM

One Iowa City woman has pulled her children from school and said she is leaving the city following a series of riots outside her home.

Iowa City police responded to a fight Wednesday at City High, 1900 Morningside Drive, which they say is related to a slew of massive fights in the area. Two juveniles were arrested at the scene, authorities said.

The incident was the fourth related confrontation since Sunday involving a series of events police say are unprecedented.

“It’s spiraling out of control,” said Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay. “We haven’t dealt with this on this scale. This has blown up very quickly.”

The confrontations apparently started Sunday following an altercation over a neighborhood football game, Kelsay said.

That evening, officers responded to the 2300 block of Hollywood Boulevard for a report of a fight involving 50 to 60 people, police said. Several people fled the area before officers could detain them. Police arrested Samuel Lockett, 21, address unknown, on Monday in connection with the brawl.

According to police reports, Lockett was one of 10 to 15 people who confronted residents and guests at a Hollywood Boulevard residence. He was allegedly wielding a baseball bat, which he was hitting on the ground, and yelled at residents in an attempt to provoke a physical confrontation.

Lockett allegedly confronted a 15-year-old female resident and struck her in the face with his hand. She suffered scratches on her face and chest as a result.

Police received a report Tuesday about a related incident Sunday on Coneflower Court.

Just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, officers were again called to the Hollywood Boulevard home. As many as 20 people were reportedly fighting in the street, and officers charged six juveniles with rioting and one with assault.

Witnesses said the group walked into the yard, where they began yelling and screaming taunts. When the home’s residents left the house, a fight broke out, authorities said.

Witnesses reported guns and knives have been involved, but police have only confirmed combatants used baseball bats and 2-by-4s.

“This has got to stop — if my kids can’t be safe at home, where are they safe?” said Necey Patterson, the owner of the Hollywood Boulevard residence, a one-story, green house with walls adorned with her children’s academic awards and sports medals.

Patterson said her kids — a 16-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter who were both injured in the confrontations — would not return to City High.

“I can replace my stuff,” she said about the damage done to her home. “But I can’t replace my kids.”

Kelsay said police were increasing patrols in the area. If the cars assigned to southeastern Iowa City are not actively responding to calls, they will patrol streets in that neighborhood. Police are also assigning extra patrols specifically for after-school hours.

“You would be hard-pressed to spend more than 15 minutes in the area without seeing a patrol car,” Kelsay said. “It’s a very deliberate effort to maintain a visible presence.”

There is no indication this is a result of gang activity, police said.

Authorities and residents agree it’s not only juveniles involved in the fighting. Though it started among high-school students, parents and other adults became involved in the altercations. Both sides of the fight are at fault, Kelsay said.

Police expect more related incidents in the coming days and more charges to come, he said.
“The whole thing is just so foreign to me,” he said. “A group of 50. Kids and parents. It’s ridiculous.”


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