Temperatures rose on Sunday, July 21 … and so did tempers … as the last night of the 2019 edition of the Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock was marred by a huge melee that resulted in several arrests and injuries to some Stanislaus County deputies.
While authorities had reported a relatively peaceful fair up until that point overall, the shutting down of a beer booth earlier than normal seemed to spark the trouble.
“Sunday was the busiest day of the fair, by far,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Josh Clayton. “Around 9:45 p.m. or 10 p.m., one of the beer booths shut down early and that pushed people to another booth.”
It was at the other booth, Clayton said, that deputies noticed about a dozen males “in gang attire” with many of them also appearing intoxicated.
“The fair has zero tolerance on gang attire and drunkenness,” Clayton explained. “So they were given the option to leave the fairgrounds or be ejected.”
Several in the crowd of a dozen or more people at the beer booth became agitated and one of them – identified as Ismael Flores, 25 – punched one of the deputies that responded to the scene.
“We did what we call a ‘circle wagon effect’ of the horses,” Clayton added of using the department’s mounted patrol unit to corral the crowd and work to establish order once again.
It was during this that one of the horses brushed by another man, identified as Armando Nunez, 24.
“Basically the guy was trying to get in the mix and the horse knocked into him,” Clayton said, which caused the man to spill his beer. “Then he pushes at the horse, pushes at the rear of the horse.”
Sgt. Josh Sandoval was aboard the horse, Maximus, and Clayton said neither suffered serious injuries. The deputy punched by Flores had minor injuries and one deputy, Dalton Gonzalez, suffered a dislocated shoulder during the scuffle. Altogether, four deputies were injured, most had just minor scrapes and abrasions.
Clayton said there were five arrests, but Flores and Nunez were the most notable. Flores is expected to face charges of obstructing while Nunez was cited for drunk in public, delaying or obstructing an officer and obstructing a police horse or police dog. The others arrested were cited for being drunk in public.
“The entire incident elapsed in maybe 30 seconds to a minute, it took another 15 minutes to get the crowd under control,” Clayton explained.
About 20 deputies were involved, responding from many different locations around the fairgrounds.
Sunday was the final day of the fair’s 10-day run and the melee was the most significant police incident of the event.