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Rival Gangs Brawl Inside Courthouse : Violence: There were no serious injuries. The fracas spilled out into the lobby and was broken up by officers from nearby courtrooms.

August 17, 1990|MATHIS CHAZANOV | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Members of two rival street gangs pummeled each other with fists, metal signposts and trash cans Thursday in the crowded lobby of the West Los Angeles Municipal Courthouse until law enforcement officers poured out of nearby courtrooms and broke up the fracas.

No one was seriously hurt, but county Deputy Marshal Frank Gutierrez said he crashed through a plate glass window as he tried to separate two of the combatants.

"One of them spun around and the momentum took us both through the window," Gutierrez said. They landed on the concrete patio outside and suffered minor cuts and bruises, he said.

The melee broke out after members of the Venice Shoreline Crips and the Playboy Gangster Crips taunted each other while they were arraigned on various misdemeanor charges, police said.

Friends from the spectator seats joined in as the fight escalated and spilled out into the lobby.

About 15 gang members were involved, along with about 20 officers, including police, deputy marshals and sheriff's deputies, who waded into the brawl and broke it up within a few minutes.

Some of the gang members tried to escape but were chased down outside, Deputy Marshal Bob Gibbs said. Ten were arrested on charges of fighting in a public place.

Los Angeles Police Detective C. Harkness, an officer of the city's CRASH gang control unit, said it was not unusual for members of rival groups to be arraigned at the same time.

"It's common that they bring their gang-member friends with them, and this time it just got a little out of hand," she said.

Although both groups call themselves Crips, the Shoreline and Playboy Gangster groups have been "at war with each other for years," she said.

The gang members, all ages 18 to 22, were wearing distinctive shoes, pants and shirts. They knew each other from past altercations, she said.

"These people, when they see each other, they are going to fight," Los Angeles Police Sgt. Russ Kilby said. "They don't care where they are or who's watching. They're kind of foolish people."

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