SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities closed off South Haven’s North Beach Sunday night before the Fourth of July fireworks show over Lake Michigan began.
Members of the public were cleared from the beach before 10 p.m. Earlier in the day, there were perhaps thousands of people there enjoying the pleasant weather and staking out a spot to view the fireworks. Police say some people in the crowd began to get violent.
“Eventually when it was almost dark, bottles started to get thrown and citizens were injured,” South Haven Police Department Sgt. Kyle Griffith explained Monday. “Officers had to respond to those injuries. They also were assaulted by people throwing bottles at them.”
Police say they cleared the beach for the safety of everyone there.
Several people on the beach were hit by flying bottles and sought medical attention. All of them are expected to be OK. Several police officers were also hit, but none sought medical attention as a result.
According to the South Haven Police Department they had to call in reinforcements from the Michigan State Police, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department as well as the Pokagon Tribal Police to help clear the beach. There was no immediate word from police regarding whether any arrests were made.
After the beach was clear, police say, the crowd made its way to the nearby bowling alley, where more fights broke out. In response, police used new pepper ball guns to disperse the unruly crowd.
South Haven police had increased patrols Sunday before the fireworks after North Beach had seen problems with alcohol, drugs and other illegal activity in previous years.
“We enjoy the fact people come to the city to enjoy our beautiful beaches and our holiday events,” Sgt. Griffith said. “We don’t want the alcohol, we don’t want the fights, we don’t want the violence. If that’s what you intend on doing, don’t come back.”
The fireworks went off as planned despite the vacant North Beach, starting around 10:30 p.m. South Beach remained open.