VALLEJO, Calif. - Despite ongoing efforts by law enforcement in the Bay Area to stop illegal sideshows, large crowds gathered again in Vallejo over the weekend to watch screeching vehicles spinning donuts, coming dangerously close to, if not hitting, spectators. There were also reports of shots being fired.
Video showed the first large gathering at the intersection of Lewis Brown Drive and Mini Drive near Highway 37 on Sunday night around 10 p.m. The location has been a known site for sideshow gatherings in the city.
Smoke emanated from vehicles as the cars sped around in circles. Many spectators stood dangerously close, taking video of the activity.
A witness said that after about 30 minutes at the first location, the crowd moved about four miles away, to another known gathering spot for sideshows, Lemon Street and Sonoma Boulevard, where the activity escalated to include shots being fired and illegal fireworks.
Some spectators may have even been struck amid the chaotic scene, according to the witness, who said the second gathering lasted almost an hour and a half.
The witnesses, a videographer who provided the dramatic footage to KTVU, said that police did not show up at either location.
No word on injuries.
Neighbors we spoke with are upset and think police aren't doing enough. For some, the sound of tires screeching and the smell of smoke is not unusual at this intersection.
"It's scary and the people who live in this neighborhood are quiet people," said Pablo Leon, who does handiwork services for neighbors in the Flosden Acres. "All of a sudden they just start spinning."
"It went on and it was loud," said a resident who lives in Flosden Acres and requested anonymity.
Some neighbors said they did not bother to call the police because in the past they haven't shown up in time to stop it.
"It does no good. We don't have policemen in Vallejo," said the Flosden Acres resident who has been caught in the middle of one of these sideshows before. "It was really, really frightening to see that."
One neighbor said she called the police three times and there was still no sign of a response – even after spectators were hit by a car doing donuts.
"I would like to see more policeman patrolling this area," said the neighbor "I think that would help."
KTVU reached out to Vallejo police but did not immediately receive a response for our request for details and comment.
Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell said he’s working with other Bay Area city leaders to come up with permanent solutions. The city recently passed ordinances allowing police to arrest people who participate and watch side shows, but it’s a matter of "manpower."
Vallejo PD has a budget for 131 officers, but the mayor said there’s only 78 currently on the force. They rely on neighboring agencies like Solano County Sheriff’s Office, CHP, and Cal Maritime Police to help them respond.
Not only is participating in sideshows illegal in Vallejo, in 2021, the city council voted to cite spectators at sideshows, as well as people who promote or encourage the illegal stunts.
KTVU's Crystal Bailey contributed to this report.