Los Angeles Times

Knott’s bolsters security after fights close park

- By Andrew J. Campa, Melody Gutierrez and Ian James

Knott’s Berry Farm says it is stepping up security in response to fighting that broke out Saturday night, forcing the park to close three hours early and sending patrons fleeing.

Some of the fighting was captured on video and posted on social media as teenagers threw punches on a street outside the park, and security guards were caught up in the melee. As the fights erupted, panicked visitors ran for safety.

One person said on TikTok that she didn’t know why teenagers were “punching random people.”

“I was so scared,” she said, adding that many children were crying.

Two injured people were taken to the hospital by paramedics, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Sean Doran said, and a third person was assessed by paramedics but declined treatment.

Buena Park police said numerous calls to 911 reported possible gunfire, but officers at the scene determined no shots had been were fired.

The park said it has shared video and guest informatio­n with the Buena Park Police Department, and visitors will find enhanced security and police presence.

“The safety of Knott’s Berry Farm’s guests and associates is always our top priority,” the park said in a statement. “The decision was made to close the park three hours early due to unruly behavior and altercatio­ns involving a number of teenagers. This behavior did

not align with our park’s values, and was not the experience we want any guest to have while visiting Knott’s Berry Farm.”

The park reopened Sunday.

Neither Knott’s Berry Farm nor its owner, the company Cedar Fair, responded to questions from The Times about the violence and specifics on how the park was handling security measures after reopening.

Enrique Castro of Anaheim waited in the entry line Sunday morning with his wife, son, grandson and a group of relatives who were visiting from Coahuila, Mexico. He said he wasn’t concerned about safety, despite what had happened the previous night.

“This has always been a safe place for me and my family,” Castro said. “We’ve been coming here for years and trust the security. I’ve never really heard of anything like this before.”

At the entrance Sunday, visitors’ bags and backpacks were searched. Security personnel from Fullertonb­ased Allied Universal Event Services used handheld metal detectors, while parkgoers who didn’t have bags proceeded through metal detectors.

Inside the park, staff wearing yellow shirts roamed the grounds. Security guards in white uniforms kept watch.

Cecilia Aguilar came from East Los Angeles with her husband and three grandchild­ren for a day of fun. She said that despite the previous night’s fistfights, she decided not to cancel her plans.

“I’ve been coming here for decades and I’ve never had any problems,” she said. “I think that was just a onetime thing.”

Griselda Navarro, a mother of two from Santa Ana, said she saw the news about the fights but didn’t want to disappoint her kids. She said they agreed on a compromise: to leave the park at 6 p.m.

“I think Knott’s is safe, but you have to be careful,” Navarro said. “You never know what can happen.”

As the fighting broke out on Saturday, rumors of a shooting prompted scared patrons to hide, according to social media posts.

“There was a fight while everyone was crowded to get out,” wrote one parkgoer on Facebook. “Suddenly everyone was screaming and then running. We were let out through the staff only area.”

One cellphone video showed a young man punching another teenager as he lay on the ground, his arms raised to protect his head. Another cellphone video showed a security guard sprawled on the ground.

One woman told KABCTV Channel 7 that she saw some people “hitting security,” and one person “on the floor bleeding. It was like a riot.”

Tina Griffin, 14, lined up at the entrance on Sunday afternoon with three friends from a church group. She said she saw posts on TikTok and Instagram about the fights and was relieved when early rumors of gunfire didn’t materializ­e.

“When things get on social media, they blow up,” she said. “I don’t know about this fight, but when people are screaming, it can cause a panic and makes things seem really bad.”

 ?? Allen J. Schaben Los Angeles Times ?? FIGHTING captured on video forced Knott’s, shown in 2020, to close three hours early on Saturday.
Allen J. Schaben Los Angeles Times FIGHTING captured on video forced Knott’s, shown in 2020, to close three hours early on Saturday.

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