(Reuters) - More than 100 people were arrested when an annual spring break party in California turned violent, with police using chemical spray and foam bullets to disperse crowds, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office said on Sunday.
More than 40 people, including several law enforcement officers, were taken to hospitals for treatment after clashes broke out between partygoers and police during the annual "Deltopia" street party in Isla Vista, about 11 miles south of Santa Barbara.
The party draws up to 15,000 people every year, mainly college students from the nearby University of California at Santa Barbara, officials said.
The melee erupted Saturday evening after a university police officer was hit in the head with a backpack filled with large bottles of liquor, the sheriff's office said in a statement. The officer was hospitalized with a "significant head injury," according to the statement.
Authorities tried to break up the event by declaring an unlawful assembly, and "chemical agents and less lethal foam projectiles were deployed to disperse the crowds," the statement said.
At least five other sheriff's deputies were injured, including one who was hit in the face with a brick and two who were hit with bottles, the statement said.
Partygoers were also blamed with setting several small fires and ripping down stop signs, authorities said. There was no immediate word on how many of the 100 arrested would be charged with crimes.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in New York; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Paul Simao)