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Albany Police defend their decision to stop the city's Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration last night, saying they had to do it to protect people.
Several fights broke out downtown during the fireworks show.
Police say when it was clear the crowd and their officer's were in danger, they stopped the fireworks. Some disappointed people who were at the fireworks show say they will not be back.
Witnesses describe the scene at Turtle Park as chaos, as fights broke out near them. No one was hurt, but for the families there to celebrate, it was frightening.
As the fireworks started exploding in downtown Albany, so did several fights.
"We were right there in the middle of it," Amber Giese said.
Giese and her children were on the grass beside Turtle Park, along with thousands of other people when she saw several young men start fighting.
"Somebody hollered 'fight' and everybody flocked over there. And the next thing we know somebody hollered gun, gun, and everybody scattered. We almost got trampled," said Giese.
"I saw a bunch of people fighting," said Ten year old Zoey Giese. How did that make her feel? "Scared."
Police say the problem was unsupervised teens, who started several fights. The Police Captain in charge of special events said he knew things were out of control when one of his officers was sprayed with a chemical.
"He was walking up to disperse the crowd," said Albany Police Captain Reginald Brown. "That's when I saw them grabbing their face. I thought one of them had been hit, but when I made contact that's when he said pepper spray or mace was sprayed in the crowd."
Captain Brown ordered the fireworks stopped, and officers ordered the crowd to leave.
"I made the determination that the crowd had gotten too large and that officer safety was at risk, as well as the citizens attending the fireworks," Brown said.
Police reports show there were at least three arrests, 17-year-old Cantonese Kennedy and Antwon Johnson for disorderly conduct, officers saw them fighting. And 17-year-old Desmond Warren, for possesion of a pistol.
"The full weight of the law is going to be brought down on those incidents. Because my personal philosophy, I want to make sure these things are safe," said District Attorney Greg Edwards.
Giese said her family left quickly. They had enjoyed Turtle Park often before, but last night's violence changed that.
"After last night, day or night, I downtown is safe at all right now. And I won't bring my kids back down here," Giese said.
Giese said she will go to the Marine Base or Sherwood Baptist Church's fireworks shows for next year's Fourth of July celebration.
Albany Police in recent years have put out warnings, urging parents not to drop off their teens and leave them unsupervised at events. They have seen problems before, but never this bad.
APD had 85 to 90 officers working Wednesday night's event. Police say they are investigating the fights and are working to come up with ways to make sure violence does not happen at other city events.