Rioting Breaks Out at Punk Concert in California

SAN BERNARDINO, California - Police fired tear gas to break up a riot at a concert featuring British punk bands in the U.S. state of California, officials said. Several people were injured in the disturbance and two police cars were destroyed.

The rioting started at 8 p.m. Saturday (0400 GMT Sunday) at the "British Invasion 2K6" show at the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino when police responded to a report of a stabbing inside the concert area, police spokesman Sgt. Rick Lindsey said.

The crowd became agitated when officers arrived and several fights broke out, forcing the officers to withdraw, Lindsey said. After backup arrived, the officers went in again and extracted the stabbing victim and another person who was beaten, Lindsey said.

Some people in the crowd of about 1,500 then started pelting officers with rocks and bottles and police were again forced to withdraw, Lindsey said.

Several surrounding law enforcement agencies arrived and officers began dispersing the crowd in different directions, Lindsey said.

Officers lined up in phalanx formation to clear the streets and they fired pepper balls and tear gas to move the crowd, Lindsey said.

As the crowd dispersed, they destroyed two police cars and vandalized area businesses, Lindsey said. A trash bin was set on fire and storefront windows were smashed.

Two officers suffered minor injuries, but stayed on duty to disperse the crowd, Lindsey said.

The two people wounded in the concert fight were hospitalized in serious condition, he said.

The all-day concert was scheduled to feature 22 punk rock bands, including G.B.H. and the Adicts.

[Associated Press WorldStream -- 03/06/06]