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Memorial Day fight closes Silver Beach early; one teen arrested

ST. JOE, Mich. -- It was Memorial Day mayhem caught on camera at Silver Beach in St. Joe, as a group of teens got into a fight and had to be broken up with pepper spray.

The smartphone video shows chaos around 7 p.m. Monday night, right near the concession stand and playground at Silver Beach.

Dozens of teenagers crowded around some girls who were pulling hair, throwing punches, and not letting up.

The fight kept intensifying until a St. Joe Public Safety officer used pepper spray to slow things down.

“I feel like it should’ve been recorded because this is what happens a lot at the beach, especially from out of town,” said Keonna Lewis, who filmed the fight. “They always come here and ruin a lot of stuff, so, I just happened to record it.”

Lewis caught it all on camera after noticing the rowdy group while she was walking up from the water with her cousin.

Lewis is from Benton Harbor and didn’t know anyone involved in the fight.

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said it appears most of the teens involved are from the Elkhart area, including the one person who got arrested – a 16-year-old boy who resisted police.

“It shouldn’t happen because when we have thousands of people come down there and a small group comes down there and causes problems and causes us to close the park down, it’s a sad day for everybody,” Bailey said.

This wasn’t the first violent holiday weekend on Silver Beach.

On Memorial Day in 2016, 10 to 15 gunshots were fired and sent hundreds running from the beach; nobody was injured.

And on July 4 in 2015, large fights on the beach led to five arrests.

Things were calm on Tuesday, but Bailey said security will stay increased to try to prevent any more problems.

Monday’s fight led deputies to close the park down an hour early, ending the holiday on a sour note.

“I feel like you should leave that at home because people are trying to come here and enjoy the beach,” Lewis said. “We don’t want to see fights. And there’s little kids out here and they were right by the playground. So I feel like they should just leave that stuff at home.”

Bailey said four of his deputies were patrolling the beach when Monday’s fight broke out.

And four were back on duty at Silver Beach on Tuesday.

Bailey said only eight alcohol violations were given out throughout Memorial Day Weekend at the park, so he said that rule seems to be working.

But when it comes to fights, Bailey said his deputies can’t stop them until they start.

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