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Monday, September 25, 2023
Sept. 25, 2023

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9 minors arrested in Memorial Day melee between dozens of young people and 3 Marines


LOS ANGELES — Nine minors were arrested Tuesday after a melee near the San Clemente Pier over Memorial Day weekend in which a group of 30 teens and young adults pummeled three off-duty Marines, according to the city’s mayor.

Orange County deputies arrested five of the juveniles — four boys and one girl — on suspicion of felony assault, said San Clemente Mayor Chris Duncan. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said the five were booked into Orange County Juvenile Hall. Duncan said four additional minors were arrested on other charges.

The suspects’ identities have been withheld because they are minors, according to authorities.

The Marines were kicked and punched by the group late Friday, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

An altercation broke out between the Marines and young people at about 9:50 p.m., the Sheriff’s Department said. Authorities did not say what caused the fight, but one of the Marines told KCBS-TV Channel 2 that it started after he asked the other group to stop lighting fireworks at the beach because firework debris had hit him in the face.

Video obtained by KTLA-TV Channel 5 shows three Marines walking away from the group of young people. The video then shows someone sucker-punching a Marine from behind before the Marine charges at the group. A melee ensues, and at least two Marines are shown on the ground, curled up in the fetal position, with people in the crowd striking them in the head and upper body before two adults intervene and stop the beatings.

“The barbaric assault on off-duty Marines at the San Clemente Pier goes against everything we stand for in San Clemente, and it’s no excuse that teenagers were involved,” Duncan said. “I want to assure our community, especially our military and veteran community, that we take this matter with the utmost seriousness and will not tolerate this kind of behavior in our city.”

“The fact that this incident occurred over Memorial Day weekend is particularly tragic,” Duncan added.

The Orange County Fire Authority treated the Marines at the scene, but they all refused to be transported to a hospital, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The Marines had minor to moderate injuries, said Sgt. Mike Woodruff, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department.