An investigation is ongoing into an alleged “pay-to-watch” fight on Halloween afternoon, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, at Becker Park, which allegedly involved scores of youths.
According to city police logs, Barron Police Department got a tip that people were paying to watch a fight at the park, on the eastern outskirts of the city.
A city officer went to the park and had just started to sort out what was happening when he and other law enforcement officers were called away to a stabbing incident across town at Anderson Park (see related story).
Conversations continued with alleged participants from the Becker Park incident at press time Tuesday, as well as with officials from the Barron Area School District, according to Barron police.
Authorities won’t comment about whether the incident is related to a another incident the previous Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, in which three students were fighting at Barron High School. A city officer went to the school on Oct. 30 to speak with students allegedly involved.
Disorderly conduct citations were to be mailed, possibly involving all of the students involved in the Oct. 28 incident.
Police investigator Nathan Emmons said Monday, Nov. 4, that that he got the tip about an impending fight at Becker Park shortly after 5 p.m. on Oct. 31.
He drove his squad south down 18th Street, which dead-ends at Becker Park.
“A car was near the entrance to the park,” he said. “And it looked like a spotter car to me.”
As soon as the occupants of the parked car saw the Barron squad car, they quickly left the area. Emmons pulled crosswise across 18th Street to prevent any other vehicles from entering and leaving the park.
According to city police logs, at least 20 vehicles were in the lot, most unoccupied. A large group of young people was also there. The officer ordered all of them to get back into their vehicles, then summoned backup to help.
Barron County Sheriff’s deputies soon arrived to assist.
“We were just starting to question the participants when we got the report about the stabbing in Anderson Park (which is located about a mile west near the opposite end of town),” Emmons said.
Eventually, police later questioned a number of youths allegedly involved in the Becker Park incident. Emmons declined to comment on whether or not there would be citations or formal charges filed.
Emmons said he planned to meet Monday with Barron County Sheriff’s Detective David Kuffel, youth liaison officer for Barron High School, as well as school Principal Chad Buss and Barron Area School District Administrator Diane Tremblay.
“We need to talk about (the matter),” he said. “This is serious.”
On Tuesday, Nov. 4, Barron Area School District Administrator Diane Tremblay emailed a statement addressing the incident at Becker Park.
“If an incident occurs at (a city) park and outside of school hours, we had very little to do with handling it, unless it flows into our school day at any level,” she said.
“With that stated, we truly value our partnership with our authorities and continually collaborate in regards to the students,” Tremblay added. “We let our Barron Police Department know that we will support the kids in any way that we can or need too.
“I assume more conversations will come our way as the investigation completes,” she said.