Fifteen people were arrested and police in riot gear fired rubber bullets to disperse unruly revelers when a celebration of UCLA’s NCAA title victory turned wild Monday night. As many as 4,000 people were on the Westwood streets at the height of the celebration.
“Several citizens have been hurt. People were just throwing bottles into crowds and one guy turned around and got it right in the face and without a doubt lost all of his teeth,” said Cmdr. Tim Bride.
A police officer was treated for broken ribs suffered in the disturbance, which was confined to the shopping and dining area next to the UCLA campus.
Non-student revelers overturned a KIIS radio station van.
“It was just a few people causing all the grief,” McBride said today. “We had mostly law-abiding individuals out there celebrating the first championship in 20 years, but some imbibed in alcohol and got a little wild.”
Order was restored within an hour, said McBride.
“I think the cops handled it pretty good. They did a good job,” said Lance Davis, owner of the Mayhem Records store.
In contrast to the Westwood confrontation, the arrival of the team at Los Angeles International Airport today was an orderly but still jubilant event.
Bleary-eyed from their own night of celebration in Seattle, the Bruins team was met by 400 to 500 cheering fans.
“Everything’s basically a blur right now,” said Ed O’Bannon, who scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the 89-78 victory over Arkansas Monday night in the title game.
Many who jammed the streets of Westwood Village had just returned from spring break. Within an hour of the Bruins’ victory in Seattle, police in Los Angeles went on a citywide tactical alert.
“With a crowd as large as this, you’re going to have someone who is drunk who is going to confront police officers,” police Officer Arthur Holmes said.
At least 200 officers, many in riot gear, marched into the streets lined with restaurants and shops and walked in lines, baton to baton, pushing the students back.
Students threw glass bottles at the officers, cheering as the bottles smashed to the ground at officers’ feet.
The officers occasionally charged the fans, jogging toward them with their batons out and discharging pellets.
Matthew Zujovich, 20, a junior economics student, said he was shot by a policeman apparently wielding a pellet gun.
“I was shot in the back of the neck when I was pushing people back,” Zujovich said. “This guy put his barrel in my back and as I kept pushing people back, he shot me in the neck. The shot knocked me on my face, it hurts like hell.
“They pushed me up and got me going again. They just have to do their job, but there’s absolutely no reason to pull out a gun and shoot somebody when their back is turned.”
Geoff Christian, 25, who graduated two years ago, blamed the police.
“We were just celebrating. Why did they need to save an intersection that people were just hanging out in?” Christian asked.
Police didn’t agree with Christian’s assessment.
“We didn’t cause the problem here. The 5 percent (of the crowd breaking the law) caused the problem. We’re the peacemakers,” McBride said.
Earlier, the mood was one of joy over UCLA’s basketball victory.
“I’m going to cry!” said 21-year-old Gloria King as the Bruins finished the game and patrons at Stratton’s Grill burst into more than 15 minutes of screaming.
“This is so unreal, this is just great,” she said. “I’m going to remember this forever.”
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