Two officers injured, 16 arrested after fights at the Lilac Festival

Posted at: 05/18/2013 11:28 PM | Updated at: 05/19/2013 11:28 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion | WHEC.com

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The 2013 Lilac Festival has come to a close, but not before violence scarred the festivities and shook visitors.

Police say they made more than a dozen arrests and they even added officers on Sunday as a precaution.

Police say multiple fights broke out near the festival around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Sixteen people were arrested, mostly for disorderly conduct, and two officers were hurt.

Investigators aren't sure why the fights started, but they believe social media may have played a role.     

Even though these fights broke out, two officers were hurt and police say they even found a gun near the area, the festival went on Sunday as if nothing ever happened.

It's something you usually wouldn't see at the Lilac Festival, violence, followed by a heavy police presence.

“They went off site in some near by neighborhoods and there was some violence that happened. We're happy it didn't happen in park grounds,” said Dresden Engle, Lilac Festival Public Relations.

Police say they made several arrests near Highland Park, but the incidents didn't stop thousands of people from enjoying the last day of the festival.

“Rochester has shown they still love the festival, they still feel safe and we're just having a great time. We've had 10 fabulous days at the Rochester Lilac festival,” said Engle.

Police and festival security teams worked hand in hand Sunday staying on top of the crowd. Still, some still felt a little uneasy.

“A little bit cautious. I try to look around my surroundings so I'll know what to do,” said Charles Nwugwo.

Vendors say they felt confident.

“I feel safe. I don't feel threatened at all,” said vendor Jean Reeves.

Jean and Bob Reeves have been selling photography at the Lilac Festival for several years.

“This is the first time we've had an incident that I was aware of. I know that it frightened some people, but I think it's unfortunate,” said Reeves.

They say the violence won't take away from the tradition the festival has created.

“We form relationships with these people. We see them from show to show and it's like good friends getting back together at every show. It's fantastic,” said Bob Reeves.

As for those two officers that were hurt,  investigators say they only suffered minor injures and were treated and released.

Rochester Police also said four men were stabbed following the fights Saturday night.

A man was stabbed on South Avenue, near Robinson Drive, and three more men were stabbed on South Avenue, near Hamilton Street. All four were taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Police have made an arrest in one of those stabbings. They are still searching for more suspects.

Police do believe the stabbings may be related to the fights near the festival.

 If you have any information, you are urged to call police.


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