Fist fights. Bloody noses. Arrested teens.
It's not the scene most expect to see when they arrive at a skating rink to pick up their teens after a dance. But brawls have broken out three consecutive Sundays after events at Kate's Skating Rink in Rock Hill, which has some parents on edge.
But the rink's owner wants parents to know he's doing his best to keep the events safe for guests, and a greater police presence will be visible for an event scheduled tonight.
Teens gather from 7 to 11 p.m. on Sundays at Kate's to dance to popular hip-hop tunes. The initial event at the rink and a subsequent one ran smoothly, the rink's manager said, but fights erupted in the parking lot after the last three dances.
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"We tried to do a good thing, and it backfired," said owner Rob Schisler of Columbia. "It's a shame that they have to start fights. It's not that we are such a terrible place. It takes one rotten apple to spoil the whole barrel. ...We're trying to do something wholesome."
Since July 6, police have responded 10 times to the skating rink, including last Sunday when fights erupted and a 15-year-old male teen was arrested, a police report notes.
Another dance is slated for tonight.
"It's something we're trying to do for the kids," manager Donnie Allen said. "It's not fair to punish the good kids, so we are going to continue for now."
To curb violence and promote safety, rink officials have beefed up security. Fourteen security guards and two officers from York County Sheriff's Office will monitor tonight's event, Allen and Capt. Allen Brandon of the sheriff's office said.
During last Sunday's dance, 12 security guards monitored safety. Two county deputies were requested in writing, but none came, Schisler said.
But such requests for deputies can't always be granted, Brandon said.
"If we have something that occurs, that takes a greater precedence. We will have to fill that need," he said. "We always tell individuals we may not be able to fill all overtime requests."
But tonight, law enforcement will be on guard.
"There will be an increased visibility of patrol units in that area during this event because of past violence," Brandon said. "There is the propensity for something bad to happen late at night. Our goal for the skating rink is to have a safe event for all those attending, but if something does happen, we will react."
Some parents told The Herald that extra police presence is enough for their teens to return to tonight's dance. Still, some York and Chester county parents told The Herald their teens would not return to the rink, but declined to comment further.
About 300 teens danced last Sunday until 11 p.m. when they came out to the parking lot, where their parents waited to pick them up. That's when fighting began.
"It just broke loose," Allen said. "Two kids started fighting. My guards grabbed the kids, but the crowd pushed the guards and kids back together."
The brawl halted traffic inside the rink parking lot. Police arrived minutes before midnight and found "four active fights," according to a police report. A 15-year-old York teen who refused to stop yelling profanity and get in his vehicle was charged with public disorderly conduct, Brandon said.
On July 27, police responded to a call of shots fired and fighting at the rink, another report shows.
"That was a bogus and unfounded call," Allen said. "There were no shots fired at this rink. It was just a fight that night."
That report notes authorities charged 19-year-old Mark Anthony McCullough Jr. of Rock Hill with public disorderly conduct. McCullough told police the fight was gang-related, the report notes.
During a July 20 altercation, teens fought in the parking lot, another report reflects.
"One kid fell and hit his mouth on a rock and cracked a few teeth," Allen said.
When police arrived, they saw a large crowd running through the parking lot in the direction of a commotion, the report shows. In that incident, police charged 17-year-old Devon Curtis Locke of Rock Hill with assault and battery after he told police he hit a 14-year-old Rock Hill teen because that teen hit the older teen's niece, the report notes.
Those incidents left rink officials on guard, Allen said. Last Sunday, security guards used wands to scan females before they entered the dance. Males were subject to pat- downs. Both practices will continue tonight, Allen said.
"That's a definite," Allen said about the move aimed at keeping weapons, items that could be used as weapons and gang associated items out of the rink. "We have taken a few chains off kids. They wrap them around their fist and sling them to hit you."
The preventive measures didn't stop the after-dance fight in the parking lot last Sunday.
"It's just stupid stuff," Allen said. "When they (teens) come out, some won't leave. They want to hang out and cause problems."
Still, Allen and Schisler want the rink to be a safe haven for teen fun, not a prime spot for late-night brawls. Schisler points to events at the rink such as Family Skate Night and Gospel Night as examples of the family-oriented nature of his business.
"It's an issue that has to be repaired," Schisler said of the fights. "There's good stuff that happens (here) that balances out the bad stuff."