SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Great America park officials say they plan to beef up security, following a reported flash-mob type attack against visitors Saturday night. Theme park and local police say the trouble started when Great America was packed with patrons for the 10th annual Halloween Fest.
"It was just a huge crowd for an event like this. and it just overwhelmed the park a little bit," said Santa Clara police lieutenant Dan Moreno.
Around 10:30pm, the crowd of 20-thousand enjoying the themed atmosphere became targets. Investigators say as many as 100 young people, some armed with tazers, ran through the crowds stealing cell phones, purses, and backpacks from victims. One woman was punched in the face during a robbery, and the ensuring chaos.
"People were just running around, like a group of people, going around raising havoc. probably like grabbing vendors stuff. and vendors were leaving," said one park-goer, who asked not to be identified.
Sources close to the investigation tell Fox-2 in response to the crime spree, Great America security turned up the park lights, lowered the music, and closed some attractions.. Still, thousands of park-goers ran for the exists.
"Being a police officer for 28 years, I don't get shocked much. but it's a little unsettling to hear stuff like this going on," said Lt. Moreno.
His department is reviewing surveillance and cell video from Saturday night in hopes of identifying the guilty. He says so far, one juvenile was arrested for suspicion of theft, and one adult was arrested for being drunk in public.
"It is shocking that adolecents are doing this to one another, stealing phones like this," he said.
Great America declined to let its spokesperson speak on camera, but the park released the following statement:
"There were incidents on October 28th at California's Great America that required assistance from on property Santa Clara police officers, and we're quickly addressed. The safety of our guests is our top priority."
To enhance security, plans are in the works to hire additional police officers to supplement Great America security forces. Currently, the park only hires two police officers to help patrol the 100-acre grounds. They want to significantly increase that number by the time WinterFest opens.