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Man Injured in Fight During Halloween Festivities at Knott's

October 31, 1995

BUENA PARK — A man attending Halloween festivities at Knott's Berry Farm was hospitalized for a head wound after he was struck in the base of his skull with the handle of a wheelchair during a fight, police said.

The victim, Derek Sundar Pelanni, 19, of Westminster, suffered a puncture wound to the head Sunday night when he and his friends were involved in a scuffle with four other men, Buena Park Police Sgt. Lloyd Schwengel said.

No one has been arrested in the incident, although two men identified as being among the group of four were taken from the park for questioning. One of them, a 19-year-old Westminster man, uses a wheelchair, police said.

Pelanni was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange about 11:30 p.m. Sunday and released Monday morning, a hospital official said.

Police said there were conflicting witness reports about the incident, which is under investigation.

Pelanni initially told police that his wound had been caused by a gunshot, a contention that doctors said they could not confirm because of the wound's ambiguous nature, Schwengel said. Later, Pelanni conceded that the injury was due to the wheelchair handle.

The early report about gunfire had caused concern among park officials, Knott's Berry Farm spokesman Bob Ochsner said.

"This type of thing rarely, if ever, happens at Knott's, and guns are unheard of here," Ochsner said, noting that the park uses metal detectors and searches purses and packages for nighttime events. "We have a great safety record."

Police ask that anyone who may have seen the incident Sunday night call (714) 562-3969.

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