- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gunfire broke out between two groups at a massive Halloween street party in the city’s Castro district, wounding at least 10 persons, including bystanders, police said yesterday.

The shooting began around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday as authorities were dispersing thousands of revelers under a curfew aimed at controlling the traditionally raucous party.

Two persons were detained for questioning, but no one had been arrested early yesterday, police Capt. Al Casciato said. He said two groups of people got into an altercation before the shooting began.

One victim was listed in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital.

The once-spontaneous and unsanctioned party was taken over by the city four years ago after police recorded five stabbings and a number of assaults in a 2002 crowd of 500,000 people and confiscated a chain saw.

Officials and members of the district’s large homosexual community said the party had started attracting “gay bashers” along with the usual colorfully costumed characters.

On Tuesday night, city officials increased the police presence, reduced the number of entertainment stages from three to one and cut off the festivities at 11 p.m.

“We had the sheriff’s department screening people for weapons and alcohol. Obviously you have a major event — a lot of different spots” to patrol, said police spokesman Neville Gittens. “I can’t explain how this happened. Unfortunately it did happen, and we are investigating.”

Ted Morales, 43, said he was working as a volunteer security guard for the event when he “heard someone empty their gun” in the crowd.

“When the shooting happened, people just dove to the ground like a wall of water,” said Mr. Morales, who did not see what led up to the shooting.

Sophia Vlahiotis, who owns Capri Ristorante Pizza just yards from the scene, was outside selling pizzas when people fleeing the bullets began running in her direction.

“They pushed the table over, the oven fell and then I realized it was gunshots,” she said. “They were trying to get into the restaurant, there were so many people.”

In another Halloween shooting, a gunman opened fire in a crowded Southern California bar early yesterday, police said. The apparent target of the shooting was hit several times in the chest and legs, and a woman was hit in the buttocks, West Covina Police Lt. Pete Mena said. He reported that the injuries didn’t appear to be life threatening.

In downtown Santa Cruz, a man and a 14-year-old boy were stabbed during a Halloween event that attracted about 15,000 revelers, police spokesman Zach Friend said. Both were flown to trauma centers.

In Tennessee, an unarmed security officer patrolling a Knoxville high school to prevent Halloween vandalism was fatally shot Tuesday night. A man who Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison said had described himself as homeless and from Virginia was in custody after taking the officer’s cruiser and leading police on a chase.

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