VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - Oceanfront business owners found themselves caught in the middle of the rowdy crowds during a college weekend event.
Virginia Beach police said there were 325 calls for service and 148 people arrested as a result.
Three shootings, three stabbings, three robberies and two assaults were reported in the resort area from Friday to Sunday.
The city estimates 30,000 visitors were in town for a college vacation event, that was not sanctioned by the city. Business owners were not informed of the event either. Some were injured by the crowds, which they described as having a "mob mentality."
"I am 65 years old. I have never been in any kind of a fight in my life," said Oceanfront business owner Nancy Rodio, who left work Saturday night with a black eye.
She says she was assaulted by an unruly group of young women who came into her Upper Deck restaurant. At closing time, she asked them to leave and that's when she was surrounded.
"When I turned, the girl spit in my face, and threw her drink at me," said Rodio. "When I turned to look at her, the other hit me upside the head with I'm assuming her cell phone in her hand, something hard."
Rodio turned away, but didn't fight back.
"They were all coming at me, they were going to jump me," she said. "The other waitress put her hand up around me and they hit her. By then the two guys who were at the bar made it to the steps and someone yelled the police are on the way and they left."
But, the police didn't come for more than an hour. Rodio could see the officers in the streets were overwhelmed and outnumbered.
"The amount of people and the fact that they were able to almost take over what was going on... restaurants closed, t-shirt shops closed, the liquor store at 31st Street had three armed police officers but they were forced to close early," she said.
Sunsations manager Rosalind Campbell almost quit Saturday night, as crowds fought outside her Atlantic Avenue storefront.
"This is the first time in the 13 years I've worked for them that I actually thought of closing the doors and quitting," said Campbell, who remembers the police were outnumbered and using mace to control the crowds.
She says the mace was so strong and the spraying so frequent, it made employees sick.
"I was in the bathroom throwing up," said Campbell. "My cashier was coughing and gagging and she had to keep trying to wash it down."
Every time police sprayed, the rowdy crowd forced its way into the store. Campbell did what she could to protect merchandise. One girl pushed her out of the way, just to steal a bag of chips.
"She just kept pushing me and saying, 'You're not going to touch me,' but really she was pushing me," said Campbell.
Following them out the door was not an option. Employees got a frightening sample of what could happen, when another worker tried to leave earlier that evening, and was immediately groped to the point where she had to go back into the store.
"We weren't even sure if she would come back the next day," said Campbell.
Campbell worries families who vacationed here might not come back either.
"The families were literally off the streets at night and I really think its out of fear," she said. "The hard part about that is they're going to tell their friends that they came down here and had a miserable time because they couldn't even go outside."
Rodio says city officials downplayed the severity of the event. She is especially disappointed with the mayor calling the violence a "disruption."
"My question to him would be, did you come down in your jeans and your sweatshirt like me, did you bring your daughter and your new grandchild and put your grandchild in the stroller and did you walk down the street at nine o'clock at night, like a family would do?" said Rodio.
Rodio worries families who planned to vacation at the Oceanfront might change their minds, for fear of leaving with a black eye - or worse.
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