ISLA VISTA, Calif. - A 17-year old teenager from the Los Angeles area is suspected of the asault that led to the riot in Isla Vista Saturday night. When it was over, six law enforcement officers were hurt, 18 people were arrested, and the entire community began a debate over what happened in the community that sits alongside UC-Santa Barbara.
The teen's name was not released, but the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department believes he is the one who struck a UCSB police officer in the head with a backpack full of alochol bottles. That officer received 20 stitches in the head, but is expected to make a full recovery.
The incident escalated into an all-out melee with thousands of people in the streets of Isla Vista. Eventually, police used rubber bullets, tear gas and wore riot gear in order to clear the streets and restore order.
While dozens of people were arrested during the daylight hours of the Deltopia event, the real trouble started about 8 p.m. Saturday night as sheriff's deputies responded to two stabbings on Camino Del Sur. Two people were taken to the hospital. Their injuries are unknown.
About 9:30 p.m., the UCSB police officer was hit in the head with the backpack full of liquor bottles. Another Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputy who responded to help was also hurt as he was hit in the head with a brick.
A news release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department reported approximately 26 people transported to local hospitals for treatment of injuries related to the evening's melee.
The Sheriff's Department declared an "unlawful assembly" when it began operations to bring the crowd under control. The department did not specify how many people were involved in the disturbance, but reported more than 15,000 people attended the day-long Deltopia street party.
About 10:30 p.m., the boisterous event turned into a riot with people in the crowd tearing down stop signs, setting mattresses on fire, and throwing more bottles, bricks and other objects at law enforcement. All emergency personnel were told to leave the area for their safety including paramedics and county firefighters.
Authorities used tear gas, pepper spray, flash bang grenades and what the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department called "foam projectiles" to try and control the crowd. The first few attempts failed, as the crowd would back off briefly then return and confront law enforcement who were taking cover behind their emergency vehicles.
The chaos was centered near Camino Del Sur and Trigo Road. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department brought in an armored vehicle used in SWAT operations.
About 12:15 a.m. law enforcement fired off more rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the crowd. One NewsChannel 3 videojournalist providing live reports from his phone was hit by those projectiles and the gas. NewsChannel 3 viewers watched as another videojournalist was overcome by tear gas as he was transmitting live video from the scene. Both of the employees told station management they were able to continue covering the story, declined medical treatment, and were able to keep providing live coverage from the chaotic scene.
During the entire course of the day and evening, 44 people were taken to local hospitals.
By 12:45 a.m., the last round of tear gas and rubber bullets appeared to thin out the crowd, with the exception of a few dozen people who refused to leave the intersection of Trigo and Camino del Sur. A police skirmish line moved through that area to clear out those who lingered.
As of 8 p.m. on Saturday night, before the riot broke out, The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said 56 people had been arrested, 49 citations were issued and 30 people taken to the hospital for injuries, including alcohol poisoning. During the disturbance, the Sheriff's Department reported arresting another 18 people.
Watch videos from NewsChannel 3's live coverage Saturday night and other photos below.Isla Vista Deltopia Riot - Live Shot 2Isla Vista Riot - Live Shot 3Isla Vista Riot - Live Shot 4Isla Vista Riot - Live Shot 5Isla Vista Riot - Live Shot 6Slideshow: Deltopia Sparks Riots in Isla Vista