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Peoria police chief promises 12 arrests in connection with Peoria Stadium fight

Chief Echevarria Football Fight Press Conference.jpg
Collin Schopp
/
WCBU
Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria gives an update on the fight that interrupted a Friday night football game at Peoria Stadium.

Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria says his department will arrest 12 people, one adult and 11 juveniles, that they believe are involved with the fight that interrupted Friday's Peoria High School season opener versus Metamora.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 30, the Peoria Police Department says three of those twelve people have been arrested. According to a press release, a 17-year-old male was arrested Monday, Aug. 29. Two others, a 15-year-old male and a 16-year-old-male, were arrested on Tuesday, Aug. 30. All three were arrested for Mob Action and sent to the Juvenile Detention Center. All three were District 150 students.

Police say the incident is still under investigation and more arrests are expected.

No identities of those arrested are available at this time.

"We will continue to work with Peoria Public Schools, and see what Peoria Public Schools wants to do moving forward and how they're going to do their games and how they're going to secure their events," Echevarria said at a press conference Monday. "But now that we're here, we're going to do these arrests.

Among his suggestions for securing the football games, he said Peoria Public Schools could look at when games were scheduled, floating the idea of morning instead of nighttime games.

He says at this point it's not known if all of the juveniles are students of the Peoria Public School District, but says that, pending interviews, they will be charged with at least mob action.

"We still need to talk to all the individuals involved, identify if we have any victims and who those victims would be," he said. "So there's still some work to do, so at minimum we have mob action."

Peoria school resources officers struck metal batons on a metal bench in an attempt to break up the fight, but some people on social media mistook the noise for gunshots. People in the stands fled from Peoria Stadium. Echevarria said the department received several calls reporting shots fired, but their investigation determined there were no gunshots at the game.

The metal batons didn't set off a ShotSpotter alert in the area.

Ultimately, Echevarria says that it's up to Peoria Public Schools to determine what to do about the resource officers' response to the fight, but he would discourage them from rattling the batons on benches again.

"We do communicate and we would encourage that, obviously, they look at how they respond," said Echevarria. "I'm sure their intention was not to cause people to run away from the scene, but more to grab somebody's attention. Obviously the effect was different."

He calls it a "learning opportunity" and says they're thankful no one was seriously injured.

Echevarria also said that some of the individuals that will be arrested are not unknown to the police department, having been involved in other fights.

Metamora ultimately forfeited the game rather than returning to the field. Peoria city councilman Andre Allen said stakeholders should come to the table to develop strategies to ensure a safe high school football season.

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Updated: August 31, 2022 at 11:44 AM CDT
This story was updated a second time following the release of more information from the Peoria Police Department on the evening of 8/30.
Updated: August 29, 2022 at 4:20 PM CDT
This story was updated following a press conference with Chief Echevarria at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.
Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.