Scuffle sours sweet-16 party

Oct. 13, 2010

A fight broke out during a sweet-16 birthday party at the Muellner Building last week.

More than 100 teens were loitering in front of the building in Hart Park, and many ran or jumped into vehicles and drove off as squads arrived just before 10 p.m. Oct. 8, according to a police report.

No one had been hurt and city property went undamaged, said Ken Walbrant, Parks and Forestry superintendent.

"The police were called by park staff and the party was shut down immediately," he said.

Rita Cole, mother of the birthday girl, said her daughter was disappointed the party had to end more than an hour earlier, but as a parent she understood the safety precautions.

She said she didn't know the six to eight boys who started the ruckus. They were friends of friends who somehow got invited to the party, Cole said.

One of the boys started flashing money around and when another went to grab for it, punches started flying.

At the time, Cole was upstairs watching over the kids in the ballroom. She had hired four security guards to keep eyes on other areas of the building and some of those workers were sitting around on the job, she said.

The boys were evicted from the party, but curious partygoers exited the building to check out the action.

The park worker who was on duty that night said he's seen an increasing amount of crime and he's keeping an eye over the Muellner Building and Hart Park Stadium. Three fights or complaints of disorderly people were reported at the park in September.

For the number of rentals - as many as five per night - Walbrant doesn't consider the number of incidents to be high.

"We do occasionally have to call police for disturbances at rentals, but there is no appreciable increase over other years," he said.

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