Mayhem broke out at Santa Clara’s California’s Great America during the final weekend of the park’s annual Halloween Haunt event.
According to Santa Clara Police Department Lieutenant Dan Moreno, it appears that a group of 15-20 boys served as the trigger for all of last Saturday’s incidents.
“A group of adolescent males were getting rowdy and they ended up stealing cell phones by knocking them out of people’s hands and grabbing them … We got reports that officers went to the area and there were so many people that everyone was scattered and running,” said Moreno. “Fights were breaking out among the adolescents there, officers called for help from patrol officers and more officers came to stabilize the situation and keep the peace.”
Great America hires officers to patrol the event alongside their own security, but, because the event happened so close to Halloween, the park was packed with as many as 20,000 fright-seekers. Moreno said 15 additional officers were called in to help SCPD officers and park security control the situation. He also said at least 10 or 12 cell phones were stolen during the melee and six minor injuries were treated on scene.
Once incidents began occurring, officials did not shut down the event, but lighting was turned on throughout Great America’s midway, music playing throughout the park was turned down and certain attractions were closed.
Santa Clara Police made two arrests at Great America on Oct. 28: one juvenile for theft and one adult for being drunk in public, and the department is currently working with Great America to review surveillance footage and identify additional subjects who stole personal items or started fights.
“We’re talking to Great America as far as security procedures go when they have a large number of people attending and what the response should be and how many officers they should hire,” said Moreno. “We are having a conversation because they’re shut down until they have their WinterFest. We’re definitely figuring out ways to prevent this from occurring again.” In a statement, Great America confirmed an incident happened and said it was “quickly addressed” and stated that the safety of guests is a top priority.
The final night of 2017 Haunt happened on Sunday, Oct. 29. The event occurred without any major issues.
At this time, there is no indication that the events at Great America are related to the BART cell phone thefts earlier this year. Anyone with information regarding the incident should call SCPD’s detective division, 408-615-4800.