Virginia Beach, Va. – Emergency dispatchers received four times more 911 calls from the oceanfront Saturday, April 27 than the Saturday before that.
Richard Kowalewitch, a beach business owner, heard a lot of the commotion.
“Shots were fired, multiple shots, multiple directions and then just chaos. People were running and screaming just out control,” said Kowalewitch.
According to police, three people were shot, there were three stabbings and several robberies.
Others say they saw numerous fights.
Tuesday, NewsChannel 3 spoke with Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera about how they handled the situation.
“We planned for what we thought the evening was going to be. Remember, in years past this was a very small number of kids that would show up,” said Cervera.
The chief says there ended up being more people than they anticipated, an estimated 30 – 40,000 people. Many were there for “College Beach Weekend.”
Chief Cervera stands by how the situation was handled.
“I’m very proud of how the officers handled the arrests because they were able to remove an individual from a crowd without having to engage with the hundreds of other people in the crowd,” said Cervera.
Police have not made arrests in the cases where people were shot or stabbed, but say they did arrest 148 people for various other incidents over the weekend.
Kowalewitch says there was a lot that police didn’t respond to though. “Drug dealing , urination, total disrespect. This place looked like a war zone at night. There was trash everywhere.”
The chief says there is no way for them to see everything, and he also took action to curb some of the problems by making the decision to shut down Atlantic Ave. to traffic and close eastbound 264. That took place around 11:30 p.m. or midnight.
Looking back, he said he made the right call to wait until then to close it.
“Remember, that’s a big decision to close down traffic vehicular traffic into a residential and business area,” Cervera said.