JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- Paul Jimerson and Janet Argo's Memorial Day vacation got off to a stressful start, thanks to a clash on the coastline. Fistfights, at least one of which was on camera, halted almost all holiday activities in Jacksonville Beach.
Jimerson said, "We thought they were having a riot or something because there were about 20 cops, about six on every corner."
The couple described seeing cops on every corner. But we wanted to know, was that enough? We took that question to Jax Beach Police Chief Pat Dooley.
"We had 10 additional officers on duty down there. And then we had five more out on the street," he said. "So we had 15 officers in our city at the time when this took place."
Dooley said there were more than enough officers on duty this Memorial Day -- even more than usual, because of a recent spike in beachfront brawls.
He said, "Yes, and that's why we had the number of officers out in that downtown area, in that six-square-block area."
Dooley says the department doesn't usually need help from JSO on Memorial Day. And in fact, he says beachgoers had behaved well until the fight broke out Monday evening.
"It's just unfortunate we had a very large number of people and a very small number of people that actually created the problem," he said.
It did take help from JSO, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach to get the crowds to disperse and bring peace back to the beachfront. But Argo and Jimerson said it was done quickly, and they never worried about their safety. Argo said, "Police had everything under control, so that calmed our nerves a little bit. And we've enjoyed the day today."
Chief Dooley says he will continue to beef up patrols on the weekends. And he says JSO will help with crowd control during the next big beach holiday, which is July 4.
Investigators are still looking for those responsible for the fight. They're asking anyone with information to call the Jacksonville Beach Police Department at 904-270-1667.