5 arrested, up to 300 involved in Athens melee

ATHENS, Ga. — Officers from several law enforcement agencies quelled a near-riot Thursday night at an apartment complex on Athens’ Eastside and arrested five people, Athens-Clarke police said.

The melee involved up to 300 people and apparently continued a series of fights that started a few days ago when some people called a teen’s brother a homosexual, according to police.

The brother recently died from complications due to AIDS, according to a woman whose daughter attends Cedar Shoals High School with the teen.

Police responded to Athens Gardens Apartments off Lexington Road about 6:30 p.m. Thursday on a report of a large altercation, and the first arriving officer saw 50 to 70 people fighting each other, police said.

Most of the combatants scattered when the officer activated his patrol car’s lights and siren, but a boy remained in the road, screaming to re-ignite the violence, according to police.

The officer grabbed the 14-year-old boy’s shoulders and attempted to calm him down, but he punched the officer several times while attempting to get away, police said.

Then boy’s sister attacked the officer, kicking his legs and punching his chest, police said.

As officers handcuffed the woman, a crowd gathered around them, and the woman started to curse and shout racial epithets at the officers, police said.

“At this point, there were 200-300 subjects in the streets with most of them being disorderly or actively fighting,” an officer wrote in a report.

More than 20 officers from the Athens-Clarke, University of Georgia and Winterville police departments helped restore order, along with Clarke County sheriff’s deputies and Georgia State Patrol troopers, police said.

The woman tried to kick out a patrol car’s window, and officers later found a knife in the back seat, police said.

The apartment complex was so clogged with police cars that many officers had to park on Lexington Road and run to the scene, police said.

The 14-year-old boy who punched the officer was charged with riot, disorderly conduct, simple battery on a police officer and obstruction, and was taken to the Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center, police said.

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