JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- The bottom line for many local businesses suffered a big blow Memorial Day after a beach brawl forced them to close early.
"So there was a tangible, financial effect from a few thugs who were not arrested," said Lynch's Irish Pub General Manger Keith Doherty.
Monday night's fight forced many local bars to close up shop early on one of the busiest weekends for Jacksonville Beach.
Action News obtained video from the scene shot by an onlooker. It shows one fight that broke out in front of the SeaWalk Pavilion.
A man in orange shorts is at the center of the fight. Family members identify him as 20-year-old Anthony Jones.
Jones' aunt tells Action News he stayed overnight at Memorial Hospital after several men repeatedly stomped on him.
Robert Evans saw the fight unfold. He tells Action News chairs were being thrown and people around him were knocked to the ground.
Fearing for his life, he and many others searched for safety and bolted from the SeaWalk Pavilion.
"This could have turned into a full-blown riot where the cops, probably with the amount that there are around here, would not have been able to handle it because there were hundreds of people," said Evans.
While order was restored by this afternoon outside Lynch's, Doherty says this brawl bruised the city's image. "Law-abiding patrons who were coming here, enjoying the holiday were frightened for their lives because you had gangs of thugs fighting in the street."
The Pier Cantina and Sandbar shut its doors three hours early Monday night due to safety concerns.
The owner, Ben Porter, tells Action News the worst of the fights happened right outside the Pier's patio.
Porter posted an apology to costumers on the restaurant's Facebook page.
It states in part, "the safety of our staff and customers is our No. 1 priority and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that is met."
Doherty says the solution here is more arrests and police presence downtown, especially during the holiday weekend.