Alcohol and violence were the common themes of calls to Davis police on Picnic Day, which left the Police Department stretched to the limit despite having bolstered its force with officers from four other agencies.
One person reported being shot at while waiting for a taxi early Sunday north of downtown Davis, and a Davis police lieutenant was injured after being attacked by two brothers whose fight he tried to break up, Lt. Tom Waltz said.
Police took reports of seven felony assaults, busted up numerous out- of-control parties and fights, and made 33 arrests, most for public drunkenness, Waltz said.
The entire “Picnic Day operational period” — from 6 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Sunday — brought 516 calls for service from police. Previous Picnic Days have generated around 100 calls and 15 arrests, Waltz added.
Likewise, the Davis Fire Department responded to about 40 calls during the same time period, most of them for people requiring medical aid due to injuries or intoxication.
“It was a lot more violent , a lot more drunk and disorderly ,” particularly in the downtown area, where huge crowds packed bars and restaurants and spilled onto the sidewalks, Waltz observed. “It was very difficult for us to control.”
“It was like a Mardi Gras atmosphere,” added Davis police Capt. Darren Pytel. He said the experience has his agency rethinking how it will handle future Picnic Days.
Pytel said about 30 officers from Davis, Woodland, West Sacramento, the California Highway Patrol and the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department were brought in to work Picnic Day, and additional CHP resources were requested as the call volume escalated.
At one point, two officers were stationed at the Yolo County Jail in Woodland to help its staff handle the constant flow of arrestees coming from Davis, Pytel said.
There were dozens of reports of parties — the first complaint came in at 8:30 a.m. — including one in the 200 block of A Street where a large number of people on the roof of an apartment complex had police and firefighters fearing a collapse, according to Waltz.
Officers also responded to numerous fights — in bars, at parties and in the streets.
A Davis police lieutenant was en route to one such call in the University Mall parking lot at about 6 p.m. when he happened upon two brothers in a scuffle at University Avenue and Russell Boulevard.
“While breaking up the fight, he was attacked” by the pair, Waltz said. Passersby and backup officers helped bring the two men into custody.
Dominic Valerian, 29; and Augustine Valerian, 26; both of El Cerrito, were lodged at the Yolo County Jail on charges including felony assault on an officer and resisting arrest. The lieutenant was treated at Sutter Davis Hospital for his injuries and sent home.
As the night wore on, police were being flagged down by citizens reporting assaults and even a wave of gropings targeting women throughout the downtown, but higher priority calls prevented the officers from handling them all, Waltz said.
At one point, officers were searching the downtown area for a carload of men who reportedly fired a handgun at another man as he waited for a taxi. The alleged incident occurred at about 12:20 a.m. at Seventh and F streets.
The victim — who was not injured — described the suspects as Latino males with shaved heads who were in a dark green ’90s model Buick Regal with shiny rims.
“We checked the area but were unable to locate the vehicle,” Waltz said.
About a half-hour earlier, a woman reported being robbed of her purse at First and E streets by a black male adult with shoulder-length curly hair who fled the area in a white Toyota Camry. That suspect also remains at large.
Anyone with information about either incident is asked to contact the Davis Police Department at (530) 747-5400.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or (530) 747-8048. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com