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X-Fest crowd slow to dispurse

It took Modesto police officers more than an hour to usher out a stubborn crowd of X-Fest fans who refused to leave the downtown area early Sunday morning.Matters were made worse after several fights broke out as officers tried to get the music festival audience to go home.

The X-Fest crowds, not inside one of the nightclubs or bars, were supposed to start heading out of the downtown area by 1 a.m.

Shortly before 1:30 a.m., officers on horseback, bicycles and wearing riot helmets formed a line in the area 10th and J streets. They started moving out the crowds in all directions.

The tactic worked initially, but the fights stalled the process and officers were still moving the crowd out of the area at 2:30 a.m.

Before the closing time ruckus, officers were pleased at how X-Fest went off without any major incidents.

As of 1 a.m., Modesto police spokesman, Sgt. Craig Gundlach said 16 people were arrested at the event, most of them for drunk in public violations.

One officer and a police horse were assaulted by concertgoers during the event, but no injuries resulted, he said.

After the fights broke out and several people were taken away in handcuffs, Gundlach said the number of arrests would obviously be much larger than their initial count.

Two people, including a woman who passed-out, were taken by ambulance to a hospital. But Gundlach said no major injuries were reported.

One fight involving about five men that occurred about 12:45 a.m. resulted in property after one of the men was shoved into a storefront window from the Central Stamp and Coin Co. business, on 10th Street.

“Once everything is back to normal, we can get out of here,” Gundlach said about more than 100 sworn officers who patrolled X-Fest throughout the night.

Cleaning crews, along with street-sweepers were supposed to move in as soon the majority of crowds dissipated, but that took longer than expected this year.

Detective Mike Hicks, whose main duty is alcohol enforcement, has worked at each of the eight previous X-Fest events. He also conducted a training for the downtown business owners and employees to better handle the X-Fest crowds.

He said they did not have any capacity problems at bars and nightclubs, and most of the businesses were able to handle the crowds well. There were a few exceptions to that, Hicks said, but he would not say which ones.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable right now saying this X-Fest was better than last year, but I wouldn’t say it was worse,” Hicks said while he and other officers struggled to get a crowd of people out of the J and 9th streets.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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