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Police Chief: Gang ties may be preventing leads in beach brawl

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Updated: 5/30/2013 8:24 pm

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- It's been three days and there hasn't been a single arrest in the Memorial Day beach brawl.

The video of a vicious local fight has now gone viral. Hundreds witnessed the beach brawl at the Seawalk Pavilion but police have yet to make an arrest.

Jacksonville Beach police say possible gang ties are preventing people from coming forward with vital information.

"It's a very difficult barrier for law enforcement," said Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Patrick Dooley. "That's not new here. It's a phenomenon that Jacksonville runs into every single day."

Dooley opened up about the recent criticism his department has received over the response to the brawl.

One of the beating victim's mothers, Stephanie West, told Action News that the police department isn't working fast enough.

But Dooley says that West's son, Anthony Jones, wasn't being forthcoming about his attackers. It took two days before he talked to police detectives.

"It did slow down the investigation. The sooner we can get information obviously the better and we're still asking any of his friends that might have been with him that might know who these people are," said Chief Dooley.

Jones is still recovering from a dislocated shoulder after he was stomped on repeatedly.

According to police, most of the men involved are not from the beach communities.

For now, Dooley plans on beefing up police presence to prevent another outburst.

"When you come from Jacksonville, you cross that bridge, bring your manners with you because we are going to be very vigilant in watching people's behavior."

Jacksonville Beach City Councilman Phillip Vogelsang tells our news partner, WOKV, that the city recently hired two new officers to patrol the downtown area beginning next month.

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