Ice rink occupied by one person when a massive brawl between young people broke out

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – What was supposed to be a fun night at a Madison ice rink ended in arrests and injuries, and the rink manager said the understaffing had not helped the situation.

Madison Police responded to a disruption at Fast Forward Skate on Friday night. But what started out as a brawl escalated into a brawl involving around 250 people.

Operations manager Justin Alling said he was the only person on the job when hordes of people – mostly children – started arriving. Many, he said, paid admission to enter the business but chose not to skate. But managing large crowds alone is typical of the ice rink. He says there hasn’t been a full-time staff for over a decade.

But given that November isn’t a peak month for the rink in general, he didn’t feel prepared for a massive crowd and the fighting that followed.

“We had three times as many people last night as the average for the last few months,” Alling said. “I can handle 50, 60, 80 people myself, but to have 150 to 200 people it becomes a bit of a challenge. “

Aiahnea Thomas was at the rink skating with friends when the large crowds started to arrive. She says she noticed that Alling was doing everything on his own and that she felt sorry for him.

“I felt bad because he was trying to do everything on his own, like he was doing the concession stand, he was doing the front, you know, letting people in, then he was trying to give people theirs. skates, then he was DJing, then he was trying to watch everyone as well, ”Thomas said. “He did everything on his own and people weren’t very nice to him.”

However, as more and more people started entering without paying, Thomas says Alling became frustrated.

“It was then that the fighting broke out,” Thomas said. “There was a fight, then a fight led to another fight. It was just really crazy because it literally happened in the blink of an eye. We took a break from skating because there were actually people who wanted to skate and that didn’t really come about for all of that.

Madison Police said a concerned parent called the police and 70 to 80 children were causing trouble. But when 4 officers arrived at the scene, the crowd was much larger.

“He [Alling] reported to us that several individuals did not pay, entered the property without paying and were loitering, ”said MPD officer Hunter Lisko, who was at the scene on Friday.

Lisko said when police arrived, however, there was no active fight scene. The agents were there for about 15 minutes, working with Alling to shut down the business. But Thomas says the kids haven’t changed their behavior.

“A youngster then stood up on the concessions counter and started throwing objects into the crowd, which made it possible to understand several smaller fights in this very large crowd,” said Lisko.

“That’s when they started again,” Thomas said. “That’s when the police came in with the pepper spray and chased us.

At this point, Lisko says many people started heading for the front door to leave, but the fighting continued in the parking lot. Members of the crowd even climbed onto patrol cars parked outside, according to MPD.

MPD says they enlisted the help of law enforcement partners in the region and eventually 27 officers from at least 5 agencies in the region were on the scene. The Madison Fire Department has set up ambulances nearby in case they are needed.

Two minors and an adult were arrested. During an arrest, Lisko says an MPD officer sustained a minor injury but was treated and released at the scene.

“This officer is fine, he is on duty today,” Lisko said.

Alling says the whole situation was “unfortunate,” but not a setback for his plans to buy the rink. He’s been involved with Fast Forward since the 90s and hopes to take ownership of the business, hire more people, and renovate the space.

“Last night comes down to a parenting perspective,” Alling said. “Hold you accountable, your children responsible, for disciplining your children so that they don’t cause a heckle. There is no reason for children to dance around police cars, dance on our tables or on our dealership counter, or even go behind our dealerships to cause a problem.

He says that in the future all guests will have to purchase skates before entering to avoid loitering.

“It wasn’t fair to the people who were there and who really wanted to skate and besides the people who were there, the families on the outside like some of the parents were traumatized,” Thomas said.

MPD says this is not the first time that police have been called to the ice for unrest involving minors. NBC15 is working to confirm these other incidents and is awaiting the release of the reports.

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