CERES — A noontime fistfight at any high school is guaranteed to draw a crowd.
But the one Thursday at Ceres High really drew a crowd: hundreds of onlookers and about 20 police officers, police and school officials said.
The scuffle between two Ceres students began just before lunch period ended on the closed campus.“The rest of the student body swarmed to watch,” Ceres Unified Assistant Superintendent Jay Simmonds said.
"Every kid from the school ran over the check it out," Ceres Police Sgt. Chris Perry said.
Fearing the combatants’ buddies might join in and turn it into a free-for-all, the school’s resource officer called for backup at 12:17 p.m.
Within a couple of minutes, several Ceres police officers, a California Highway Patrol officer and four Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies converged on the campus. And, Perry said, the Ceres SWAT team, having just finished a training session nearby, also responded for a total of about 15 officers from the Ceres force alone.
The feared riot didn’t happen. Officers dispersed the crowd and the campus soon returned to normal.
"We got incredible backup," said Simmonds, who rushed to the campus and saw numerous patrol cars.
"I said to myself, 'Please tell me that’s not necessary,' " he said. "We're rather have too many than not enough. We're totally appreciative."
"It helped that it all started about five minutes before the bell rang," Perry said. "We were able to herd everybody back to their classes."
No weapons were drawn — not by the fighters nor the crime fighters, he said. Both of the combatants were arrested, though neither was seriously injured, he said.