DES MOINES, Iowa -- What started as an after-school fight between two students turned into a brawl in downtown Des Moines on Monday after nearly 100 students from different schools showed up to watch.
It started around 4 p.m. near the downtown DART station. Police say they knew a fight was coming, but they didn't know it was going to grow to something this big.
“Our school resource officers received some information that there were two kids that were planning a fight, who knows why, it’s probably something ridiculous, but they were going to fight each other," said Sergeant Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department. "Word spread, we could see that it was picking up some momentum, so we sent some officers down to the area where we thought this was going to occur. What we did not expect was the number of students from a variety of schools that showed up simply to spectate.”
The police department had 10 officers in place, but things quickly things got out of hand.
“We had what you would expect. We had small skirmishes that broke out within this large crowd. Whether it was something as simple as bad manners all the way up to assaulting a police officer, that happened in this crowd,” said Parizek.
Police say a large fight broke out and they had to use pepper spray to get it under control. A 14, 15, and 16-year-old were arrested. It took two hours for officers to get things back to normal, but the violence didn't end there.
A group of teens boarded a DART bus and took it to the McDonalds on 6th and University. Police say those teens began fighting again and eventually turned their aggression to a passerby, 55-year-old Dant Oprea.
The teens injured Oprea so severely he had to stay at Mercy Hospital overnight.
“They caused some pretty serious injuries to him. It looks like he might have facial fractures and a gash on his head,” said Parizek.
Oprea has been released from the hospital, and no arrests have been made in his assault.
“We see this as a growing issue in law enforcement, not just in Des Moines, but across the nation. What in the past had been parenting problems addressed in the home are going unchecked and becoming police problems, and we aren’t necessarily the people that need to be raising everyone’s kids. [It’s] absolutely ridiculous that we have to dedicate those resources to a bunch of unruly high school kids,” said Parizek.
Des Moines Public Schools released a statement on the incident saying, "There certainly may be student discipline, but the district will wait until police finish their investigation before moving forward. We are thankful for the DMPS staff member who originally alerted School Resource Officers to the possibility of a confrontation."
Parizek says the students ranged in age from middle to high schoolers.