ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Police responding to a call of gunshots in downtown Anchorage found an "unsanctioned street party" a block away and used riot gear to disperse it.
Twenty-two patrol cars showed up early Sunday to break up the party that started with a few people dancing to music coming from a sport utility vehicle and eventually attracted 200 as bars were closing, the Alaska Dispatch News (http://bit.ly/11QtYfj) reported.
Two people were arrested for disorderly conduct.
The call of shots fired at Third Avenue and E Street came in at about 2:30 a.m., said police spokeswoman Anita Shell. Nearby, in front of the Sunshine Plaza mall, about 200 people were "dancing and shouting" in the street while a Cadillac Escalade blasted music, police said.
Officers told the sport utility vehicle owner to turn off the music and the crowd got unruly, police said. Police called in every available on-duty police officer and reinforcements from the University of Alaska Anchorage and airport departments.
Officers formed a line and most in the crowd left.
The large police response and riot gear were a necessary show of force, Shell said.
"Police were outnumbered about five to one. (Members of the crowd were) not following the commands of officers. They were starting to get hostile toward police. Hitting police vehicles with their hands," Shell said. "That ratchets up our response. We need to show a presence of force to disperse the crowd."
The last time Anchorage police put on riot gear may have been to break up a downtown crowd at a 2003 Fur Rendezvous teen dance that turned violent, she said.
TJ Carmen, managing owner of playHouse, a Fourth Avenue downtown bar, said some of the people dancing in the street came from his bar, he said.
"There was a small group and someone started playing music and dancing. Police asked them to turn the music down. And five people dancing turned into 10 turned into 100 turned into 200," Carmen said.
He saw no violent altercations but people kept dancing after they were told to leave because "there were just enough numbers there that people felt like they weren't going to get arrested," he said.
"It wasn't violent really," he said. "It was just bizarre."
He said he plans to ban about 20 patrons for their involvement.
"This behavior is inexcusable," he said.
Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, http://www.adn.com