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Rocks, bottles thrown at Santa Rosa police cars during sideshow that drew hundreds of people

At least one person was arrested during a sideshow that attracted hundreds to a Santa Rosa intersection Thursday night and resulted in people hurling rocks and bottles at law enforcement vehicles monitoring the event, police said Friday.

The arrest involved a reckless driving suspect associated with the gathering of up to 400 people at Sebastopol Road and West Avenue, Santa Rosa police Sgt. Chris Mahurin said. The suspect’s vehicle was impounded.

Calls to police began shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday, and police estimate there were 50 to 70 vehicles at the gathering.

Officers investigated a possible gunshot victim in the crowd around 11:30 p.m., Santa Rosa Sgt. Mike Clark said. They tried to get spectators to bring the possible victim out of the crowd, but “nobody was cooperating,” he said.

Police called in backup from Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers to search for a victim, prompting bystanders to hurl rocks and bottles at their vehicles, Clark said.

Mahurin said the vehicles had moderate damage, including small dents and scratches, but no officers were injured. About 19 Santa Rosa police units responded, along with at least 10 sheriff’s deputies and several CHP units.

The crowd eventually dispersed and no shooting victim was found, Clark said. Police received no call from a hospital reporting a gunshot victim, and officials concluded there was no evidence of a shooting.

Two young women, age 16 and 18, were subsequently dropped off at a hospital — one at 11:30 p.m., the other at 2:30 a.m., both with superficial stab wounds that were not life-threatening, Clark said.

Investigators also found a man suffering from a head injury, but they said it wasn’t clear if he was assaulted or fell.

The sideshow, just like one on Aug. 27, occurred at Sebastopol and West avenues and involved drivers performing stunts in the middle of the intersection. Investigators are trying to determine if both gatherings were organized by one group.

Police monitored Thursday’s situation, as they did three weeks ago, owing to the size of the crowd and limited number of officers.

Moving into the crowd would be “creating a situation that’s going to be bad for everyone,” Clark said.

Officers took down license plate numbers of the sideshow participants with the intent of tracking down and impounding those vehicles, he said.

Police also stopped several vehicles leaving the area, issuing citations to the drivers and impounding and towing away the vehicles, he said.

About 70 vehicles and 300 spectators were involved in the Aug. 27 sideshow, prompting about 80 calls from residents. The crowd and drivers eventually dispersed as police remained about a block from the event, making no arrests.

Crowd members launched fireworks as drivers drifted, burned out and did doughnuts in the middle of the intersection.

Staff Writer Colin Atagi contributed to this story. You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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