UPDATE: (7/16/18) — The City of Virginia Beach has released an “After Action Report” following this year’s College Beach Weekend. To read the report, click here.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Atlantic Avenue is once again quiet after an estimated 15,000 people flocked to the Oceanfront for College Beach Weekend.
“There was a lot of positive that can not overcome the fact that some people got shot,” said Mayor Will Sessoms on his last day in office. “The feeling of the crowd was much more relaxed than I had seen in previous years.”
City officials are examining what worked over the weekend and what didn’t: “The most regrettable thing is people being shot down there for college weekend,” Sessoms added. “That being said, I believe the city was really prepared.”
There were less college students at the beach than in past years. For a while, it seemed as if things would stay quiet.
“It’s like you hit that 11:30 p.m. time frame and there is a switch that flips,” said Oceanfront resident Ginger Capps, who lives on 16th Street and watched throughout the year as the city worked on a plan to keep the peace.
“I was angry and I was frustrated because I’d actually went to bed and got up to find one of the victims collapsed in front of our home. It’s so hard, because when I went to bed I was like, ‘we got it right.'”
A woman was shot in the neck Saturday night on the boardwalk at 20th Street. As officers were investigating, they heard more shots coming from the 20th Street Parking Lot. Police say two people were hit a block over.
Police say the four victims from three separate shootings are all expected to survive.
“Overall, the majority of the young people there were there to have fun and not to cause problems,” Sessoms said.
RELATED: Monday is Sessoms’ last day as Va. Beach’s mayor
Police monitored the crowd by drone and shut down streets early.
Those who’ve worked in the bars praised the city’s proactive response and crediting the heavy police presence with traffic and liter control.
“I have never seen the beach this clean after a beach weekend,” said Beth Evans. “The city nailed it.”
Police say they made 43 arrests, which is up 13 from 2017.
“To me, it’s a shame that the thugs come into town to really screw up something that was going extremely well.”