Jax Beach brawl victims: Where were police?

Melee broke out Monday evening near Sea Walk Pavilion

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - The victims in the melee at Jacksonville Beach on Monday evening want to know where the police officers were when the fights broke out near the Sea Walk Pavilion.

Two teenagers said they were outnumbered by as many as 20 others who were punching and kicking them while on the ground.

"I was trying to fight back with one person, but somebody just hit me and kicked me," one victim in the fight said. "We tried to get away and they just ran and started chasing us down. We really couldn't do nothing."

The teen said he was looking for police officers to break up the brawl. He said he and his friend ran from the beach to the street, and that's when someone with another cellphone captured video of the fight. The teen is out of view when his 20-year-old friend is jumped on, dislocating his shoulder.

He said Jacksonville Beach police weren't there when he needed them the most.

"They could have done something," the victim said. "When people see the police, they stop what they are doing. They could have at least done something instead of just standing there and watching. I'm just happy we just made it out alive."

"Our police reacted real quick, our sergeants made quick decisions and no one got hurt in the fight except the victims, and police are handling that now," Jacksonville Beach Vice Mayor Tom Taylor said.

Taylor pointed out that several fights were going on at one time. He said police were trying to move the crowds onto the streets.

"Several fights started and our officers were there in force to handle the situation," the Jacksonville Beach Police Department said in a news release. "They broke up the fights and dispersed the crowd, even following the crowd to their cars to ensure public safety."

Channel 4 has learned that the Police Department had 16 officers on duty Monday night patrolling a crowd of thousands that, at times, appeared out of control.

"I know the police were there, but they didn't control the crowds," the victim said. "I guess they were waiting on backup or whatever. They could have at least tried to calm it down. They didn't even try to do that."

The Police Department said it will have all of its officers working on Sundays and on three-day weekends to help beef up the police presence. The department said it also plans on utilizing surveillance cameras on light poles to monitor crowds.

Neighbors Samantha and Brian Price said they were disgusted after watching the new video.

"They're having fun, it's very sad," they said. "They are entertained, they're having a blast, I guess."

The last couple of days have been embarrassing for the Price's. They said they're frustrated, saying the fight reaffirms the reason they don't bring their 2- and 3-year-old to the beach during festivals and big holidays.

"Families for the most part, at least local families don't come around," they said.

Wednesday night, the Price's said enough is enough and something has to be done. They're just not sure what.

"I don't even know what you do about it, or how you stop that. It makes it sad," the Price's said. "It makes it hard for you to even go out to the beach."

John Harpersberger's angry about it all. The restaurant where he works closed down three hours early because of the fight. He said his paycheck will be short $80.

"I think that it's ridiculous," said John Harpersberger. "That's my cell phone bill."

The 28 year old has spent most of his life here. Harpersberger said these types of fights usually involve people who are from out of town and don't represent the beauty of Jacksonville Beach.

"It's supposed to be a nice little comfort cozy zone, a nice money maker," said Harpersberger. "We all hang out at the beach. We need to take the beach back."

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