Huntington Park, CA – A man who fired highly explosive fireworks at police officers and a police helicopter during a celebration of Mexico’s World Cup soccer win has been arrested on multiple felony charges (video below).
“Only due to evasive actions were the officers not struck by the projectiles,” the Huntington Park Police Department said in a Facebook post.
A large gathering of fans converged at the intersection of Florence Avenue and Pacific Boulevard on June 17, shortly after Mexico’s victory over Germany.
The spontaneous street celebration quickly became “unruly,” prompting officers in “full-tactical gear” to respond to monitor the situation, police said.
As the crowd became “increasingly hostile,” 36-year-old Jose Alberto Martinez began firing “highly-explosive mortar style fireworks” at the line of officers, and at a police helicopter hovering above, according to the department.
Cell phone footage showed another man lighting the fuse of the firework Martinez held in his outstretched arms, as he knelt in the middle of a roadway.
The crowd yelled as Martinez ran forward and crouched down again, smoke billowing from the rocket.
He aimed the fireball projectile at the nearby officers, who quickly scrambled out of the way as the explosion impacted the ground just feet from where they stood.
Martinez was located shortly after the incident, and was subsequently charged with four felony counts of assault on a peace officer and one felony count of using a destructive device and explosive to injure/destroy, police said.
If convicted, Martinez faces up to 27 years in prison.
World Cup fans returned to the streets on Saturday, shortly after Mexico’s 2-1 win over South Korea, KTTV reported.
The boisterous crowd overtook the intersection of Santa Fe Avenue and Hope Street and lit off more mortar fireworks as several vehicles spun donuts in the road.
Cell phone footage captured the chaotic scene, including the moment that one of the spinning vehicles slammed into a man standing nearby.
The impact knocked the man to the ground, but he did not appear to be seriously injured.
Smoke billowed and tires screeched as the crowd cheered.
“Hey man, it’s a little bit out of hand, but it’s the World Cup baby, it’s every four years, were going for the gold, and we're going for it all,” one man told KTTV. “It’s just madness going on … it’s just in the heart of every soccer fan. That’s why people go crazy ‘cause people don’t understand, people love soccer!”
The unruly crowd was successfully dispersed by officers and a police helicopter after approximately an hour, police said.
You can watch cell phone footage of both incidents in the videos below: