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Workers: Norwalk Beach Closed by 'Melee'

NORWALK, Conn. – The glass is broken at Norwalk's Calf Pasture Beach, where a large group of teenagers wearing gang colors proved too much for one police officer to handle on Monday, according to an account given by Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling.

The beach was closed for a while, after multiple police cruisers arrived to handle the situation. "There was a large crowd," Rilling said. "They were refusing to move off the sidewalks and things. The officer, who was alone at the time, did the best he could to move them along, but they just moved from one place to another."

Some people estimated the group to be 100 strong, some said 200, Rilling said. The officer who tried to control the crowd said some wore red hats with white T-shirts and other had blue hats with white T-shirts, according to the chief. Those are the colors of the infamous Crips and Bloods, gangs known on a national level. Rilling said Tuesday morning the oldest were about 17 and 18 years old but later said they were 16 to 17. The younger ones were 13 to 14. They had walked to the beach.

Workers at Stew Leonard's Grill said the group congregated outside the concession stand. Later they were running on the beach, and female voices were calling "Get him! Get him!" The workers heard a crack and realized that the glass in one of the doors was broken.

"I do know there were young girls involved as well," Rilling said. "Whether they were provoking or whether they were antagonizing, or just enticing something further, I don't know."

The workers at the concession agreed that the lone officer tried to break it up. They said the group made its way to the front gate, where they were told there was a "big melee." That was when the beach was closed. They weren't sure for how long.

Last year, Mike Mocciae, director of the Department of Recreation and Parks, cut back on security at the beach due to budgetary constraints . "My budget went from $160,000 to $60,000 for police coverage," he said last June. "If there's a problem, there's always one officer down there. If there's a problem, he can call somebody else in. But right now, that's what we have funding for. We haven't had any issues."

On Tuesday, he confirmed his budget is still at $60,000.

The lone officer on duty Monday called for help at 3:23 p.m., when fights were breaking out, according to Rilling. "In the heat of the moment, to give everybody an idea as to what he was confronted with, he said, 'It's Crips and Bloods,'" Rilling said.

He said the teenagers don't really have any affiliation to the Crips and the Bloods. "The officer identified the so-called leaders of the two groups and told them that if anything happened they'd be arrested immediately," Rilling said. "Then we got them off the property and sent them home."

The department dealt with a similar problem last Memorial Day with increased police presence, Rilling said, and the rest of the summer was peaceful.

"All the planets were aligned for large crowds at the beach," he said. "When you have large crowds at the beach anything can happen. We only had one officer on duty that was hired by parks and rec. We're going to be meeting to parks and rec to talk about increasing the numbers of officers that they're willing to hire, plus supplementing that with officers who are on duty."

Mayor Richard Moccia did not respond to a request for comment.

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