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Area Becomes ‘War Zone’ After Punks Turn Industrial-Grade Fireworks Against Police

While millions of Americans enjoyed watching officially sanctioned fireworks displaysacross the nation on Independence Day, and many even fired off a few bottle rockets and sparklers of their own in celebration, one unofficial and unsanctioned fireworks display in central Arkansas got well out of hand on the Fourth of July.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on a massive, hours-long fireworks fight that some witnesses described as being akin to a “war zone” in the small community of College Station, a predominately black and low-income area just to the southeast of Little Rock. The fracas resulted in several people going to the hospital and to jail.
Though the possession and use of fireworks is prohibited within the city limits of Little Rock — an ordinance many residents willfully ignore — they are permitted outside of the city in surrounding Pulaski County, and residents of College Station noted that there is always something of an unofficial major fireworks display in the area every year — though never to the level that this year’s display reached.
A “fireworks war” broke out around 6 p.m. Thursday among an estimated crowd of 250-300 people — many of whom were not local residents but had come in from Little Rock and other nearby communities — and continued on well into the early hours of Friday morning.
Pulaski County sheriff’s deputies were forced to respond to the ongoing and unruly commotion that left at least five individuals severely wounded and resulted in 12 arrests. 
Check out this body camera footage from one of the deputies around 2 a.m. Friday to get a sense of what went on for hours and hours on end:
Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Cody Burk told the local newspaper that people were arrested after fireworks were purposely shot at officers, resulting in minor burns for a few of them, and that at least five people had suffered the loss of fingers or parts of their hands from the use of what he described as “display-grade” fireworks.
“That area has a history of fireworks complaints, so we had a few deputies over there,” Burk told the Democrat-Gazette. “It started about 6 [p.m.], and we were out there until well into the morning.” 
When people began to be injured in the fireworks war and ambulances and other first responders arrived to render aid, those first responders were fired upon as well with the fireworks, prompting the sheriff’s deputies to provide escorts or simply walk or drive victims out of the area to receive treatment in a safer location.
“It sounded like a war zone,” Annette McClain, who lives in the area, said of the hours-long fireworks battle. “It was just ridiculous, but it was really scary.”
McClain described how a patch of grass near her home had caught on fire and how sparks from other fireworks had landed dangerously close to her house. She said the people had initially divided up into two large groups that were firing their incendiaries at each other across a set of railroad tracks — a typical occurrence in the annual celebration — but things quickly spiraled out of control and spilled out into the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Oh, I saw them shooting them at police,” McClain said. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Two young men who participated in the fireworks war, Tyrese Taylor and Rashad Scaife, said the annual battle typically only involves bottle rockets and smaller fireworks, but people this year had brought much larger and more powerful incendiaries to use as ammunition in the fight. 
“We were out here all day, but war started at 6,” Taylor told the Democrat-Gazette. “Everybody was lined up and everybody knew who they were shooting at, but when the police showed up it was like stepping on an ant bed. People went everywhere.”
“I saw three people get hurt,” Scaife added. “This one guy, his whole hand was off.”
Burk confirmed that one person had lost most of the palm of his right hand, and an arrest report noted that some participants had used “mortar charge”-style fireworks. According to the arrest reports, all of those taken into custody were arrested for shooting fireworks into crowds of people or at the officers and first responders attempting to render aid.
It is one thing for a handful of friends to have a small “war” with bottle rockets and other small fireworks in a secluded or remote area, but it is entirely something else to have hundreds of people shooting off industrial-sized, “display-grade” fireworks among large crowds and in a densely populated neighborhood for hours and hours on end.
On top of that, firing those large and dangerous fireworks directly and purposefully into crowds of people or at law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel takes everything to an entirely new level.
Hopefully, the multiple arrests and severe injuries that resulted will prevent such an occurrence from happening again, at least in this central Arkansas community.

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