VIRGINIA BEACH- There were more than 80 police officers assigned to the Oceanfront and they were "fully engaged" when violence erupted late Saturday into early Sunday, officials told WVEC.com, following a Monday morning meeting.
They did an admirable job of not allowing the situation to escalate, according to the statement released after meetings that included the police chief, city manager, the director of the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors, and other city leaders.
There were three shootings, a stabbing, several robberies, an assault and an argument in which two people were injured by a thrown bottle, police said.
“One shooting happened within 30 feet of police,” Councilman Glenn Davis told 13News.
Many people are using social media, sending emails and calling 13News asking about the number of police on the streets for College Beach Weekend and whether there were enough officers on the street for such a large crowd.
Mayor Will Sessoms said at one point there were 30,000-40,000 people at the Oceanfront/
While it was not a city-sanctioned event, "we were fully prepared for it to be held at the resort," officials said in the the statement.
“I’m not going to say we don’t need more police; we do. However, these shootings happened right in front of police. This was a different mentality,” Davis remarked.
Councilman Bill Desteph said council supports paying police overtime during large events. DeSteph will conduct a town hall meeting on Wednesday from 7 until 9 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Convention Center to discuss the events that led to three shootings, three stabbings and the robbery reports.
Davis acknowledged that it might make sense to hire more officers to cut overtime costs.
Virginia Beach Police said they had an operations plan for the event but wouldn't release it to 13News, citing sensitive security details.
As far as the possible impact on the city's image and the all-important tourist season, officials stressed that pre-bookings for the season are high and "we are expecting to have a strong overall tourism year."