BROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- Rhema security officials are making sure the public knows the campus is safe, and security measures will increase after a large brawl of teenagers forced the closure of the display Saturday night.
The display is one of the biggest in the state and a popular event that's been successful for nearly 40 years.
“To come out here and desecrate that and to create violence… I think that's the thing that bothers me the most,” Larry Johnson, director of security said.
Broken Arrow police said they responded to the Rhema Christmas lights display after multiple calls of unruly teens causing problems.
“We had to bring in the Broken Arrow Police Department in order to regain the peace here,” Johnson said.
He adds the number of teens causing fights outnumbered security on the grounds.
BAPD said about 100 unaccompanied minors began fighting among a crowd of nearly 6,000. Police had to pepper-ball the minors to stop the chaos.
Innocent bystanders said they were also caught in the mix.
“These group of people came running and yelling and they pushed us and we told them to watch out because we had babies,” the witness said. “They just jumped on me. Every time I’d get up I’d just get knocked right back down."
The witness suffered a black eye during the rumble.
“People should go there and feel safe with their families,” another witness said. “It’s a beautiful event that's been going on for years."
Rhema security officials said this behavior won't ruin nearly 4 decades of hard work and commitment.
“We’re open tonight and we aren't going to stop,” Johnson said. “They're not going to defeat us.”
Security measures are now being revamped.
“We’re reviewing our whole security plan right now and I want everyone to understand we will secure this place,” Johnson said. “People do not need to live in fear to come out here again."
The light display will continue for the rest of the season.
BAPD said four juveniles were detained after the incident but released back to their parents. Police also said no one has pursued charges and an investigation is ongoing.
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