Calif. police break up massive party gone 'viral'
Hundreds of youths showed up, fighting, smashing furniture and looting before police arrived to break it up
By Jason Hoppin
Santa Cruz Sentinel
APTOS, Calif. — A graduation weekend get-together in the Aptos hills spiraled out of control Saturday night when hundreds of youths showed up, fighting, smashing furniture and looting before police arrived to break it up.
Four people were taken into custody for stealing jewelry and weapons, and a 16-year-old girl was cited for hosting the soiree, which police said was posted on Facebook. More than 300 people ultimately blew through the house on Flume Road, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
"What really happened was that she invited a couple friends over to watch a movie," said neighbor Nancy Robertson Zaferes, whose husband joined other neighbors to block more people from entering. "It went viral, and within 15 minutes the house was overrun with a lot of people that these girls didn't know."
Zaferes said the girl's parents, who on Sunday were en route home, want word about the party to get out as a warning to others. She said an acquaintance of the 16-year-old girl sent a text inviting others over, without the girl's consent.
"As parents, it's a lot different now. One text goes out to 100 people and it just keeps going," she said.
Sgt. Patrick Dimick said 15 units responded to the scene, consuming much of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office's resources for the night and drawing law enforcement officers from across the county. It helped that the initial call went out just after 10 p.m., during a shift changeover.
"The house, in general, was trashed," Dimick said. "The party got out of control, and now they're paying the price."
The episode is reminiscent of the 2012 movie "Project X," where a teenage house party spirals far out of control. That movie inspired real-life replicas, though Zaferes insists a big party was not the girl's intent.
It probably didn't help that last weekend was graduation for most area high schoolers, giving them a reason to celebrate. The girl who lived at the home was not a senior, Dimick said.
Dimick said the California Highway Patrol nabbed four suspects on suspicion of theft after a traffic stop following the party, when the suspects were found with jewelry belonging to the parents, and weapons. Further details on the arrest, as well as any other potential missing items, were not immediately available.
Zaferes described a chaotic end to the party, with teenagers and "gangbangers" filtering out through the dense woods near Valencia Road. By that time, the girl and her friends had already left the house and called police, she said.
"The exodus looked like a football game had ended," Zaferes said. "There were just mobs of kids coming down from that house."
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