UPDATES WITH ARREST INFO, CROWD SIZE
Sheriff’s Department officials deployed dozens of deputies, reservists and volunteers Sunday to Santa Clarita in an effort to control anticipated crowds at an unsanctioned memorial at the fatal crash site of Paul Walker and Roger Rodas.
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Deputies arrested a man on a concealed weapon charge Sunday, during an “impromptu” memorial for movie star Paul Walker and Santa Clarita CEO Roger Rodas.
Kyle Roberts, 29, of Arizona, was arrested for possession of a loaded firearm in public, according to Sheriff’s Department arrest records.
“What happened was at about 4:30 (p.m.), a few hundred yards south of where the impromptu memorial was, deputies noticed a man walking down the sidewalk,” said Capt. Mike Parker of the Sheriff’s Department’s Headquarters Bureau. “And it looked like the butt of a gun was protruding from his waistband, and it turned out, he was carrying a loaded pistol.”
The suspect, who was not identified by Sheriff’s Department officials, will be booked on a misdemeanor charges — carrying a loaded weapon.
At least 6,000 were expected to have visited the crash site Sunday, with thousands more having visited throughout the week.
That was the only reported incident so far, and the cause of the crash has not yet officially been released by the Sheriff’s Department.
The memorial car meet for Walker and Rodas on Sunday drew visitors from several states to Santa Clarita to pay their respects to the movie star and the CEO of Always Evolving Performance. Approximately 3,5oo people were estimated to have been there at one time, officials said.
The two died in a fatal crash Nov. 30, when the two, traveling at a “very high rate of speed” lost control of a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT and crashed it into a light pole.
A motorcade of everything from Lamborghinis to souped up Hyundais paraded past the crash site, which was tightly managed by a slew of Sheriff’s Department officials
What started with a few Facebook pages blossomed into an international event with thousands of fans coming from as far away as New Zealand to pay their respects.
“The mood of the crowd has been peaceful, but there have been traffic-control issues and large crowds all day,” said Deputy Josh Dubin of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
While there were complaints of traffic congestion in the area on social media, there was little disturbance and no arrests, despite the large gathering.
There were approximately 40 citations given for illegal parking, and several vehicles were towed, Parker said.
Sheriff’s Department resources were still on scene as of 5:30 p.m., and Parker said they would stay until traffic and the crowd’s size no longer presented a security concern.
There’s still a lot of cars coming through here,” Parker said. “There’s at least a couple of hundred people still (here),” he said, from the scene of the memorial.
“There’s still at least hundreds of cars driving past,” he said
Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station officials put out several Nixle reports warning of traffic closures, but long lines could still be seen on Copper Hill Road in Saugus, as fans poured in from all over.
The Sheriff’s Department managed resources from a mobile command post brought by the Emergency Operations Bureau.
The resources will be paid for by city of Santa Clarita officials, said city Spokeswoman Gail Ortiz.
“In terms of public safety, yes, traffic control, yes, and cleanup, yes,” Ortiz said, addressing the costs.
Unofficial estimates placed the cost of dozens of deputies, including a helicopter unit, and the all-day crowd control easily in the five-figure range.
No estimate on the bill was available Sunday, Ortiz said.
A lot of the support services available at the site, such as parking and food and drink provided by North Park Community Church, and the Andy Gump facilities, were donated.
Andy Gump is based in the area, and the owner knew Paul Walker’s father, and donated the units to help out, said Manny Hernandez, who was managing the site for Andy Gump.
The city had ample reserves in its budget to pay for unforeseen, emergency situations such as this one, Ortiz said.
She emphasized the message in a Nixle report released by Santa Clarita and Sheriff’s Station officials ahead of the event: The memorial wasn’t sanctioned by the city, however, city officials were doing whatever was necessary to make sure the event was conducted safely.
“We really tried very hard, we reached out to the businesses, and we let them know there was going to be local access,” she said. “This was not a city-sanctioned event, we were merely reacting the best we could.”
Many of the Sheriff’s Department resources included volunteers, Dubin said, and reserve deputies, who are paid $1 a year for their efforts, helped with much of the traffic control.
“This all started on social media, and we listen to social media and we responded to it,” Dubin said, “and that’s what helped us prepare for this.”
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