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San Diego mayor blasts squirt gun 'delinquents' who damaged park

August 13, 2012 | 12:22 pm

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said Monday he is "appalled" at the damage done to Balboa Park during a squirt-gun fight involving hundreds of youthful revelers. 

Sanders vowed a complete investigation, including a demand for restitution and possible criminal charges.

"Like every San Diegan, I am appalled by the complete disregard for our iconic park by these delinquents," Sanders said in a written statement. "The damage done to the century-old lily pond and the mess they left behind is unacceptable."

The event announced on the Internet was billed as the "second annual squirt-gun fight" to be staged near midnight Saturday. A similar event occurred last year without incident.

But for reasons that remain unclear, this year's crowd trampled vegetation in the lily pond in front of the Botanical Building. A pipe to the pond was broken and water splashed out as revelers frolicked in it.

Initially, officials thought some of the koi fish in the pond had died. But on Monday, officials said all the fish and turtles had survived. Still, damage to the lily pads and other plants was put at several thousand dollars.

"We will hold those who did this accountable for their actions, which may be criminal," Sanders said, "and for every penny it costs to return this area to its original beauty."

While San Diego police knew about the event in advance, the department received no calls for service when the rowdiness was occurring, a department spokesman said. Officers were busy in the downtown Gaslamp District, where 75 calls for service were received in the hours from late Saturday and early Sunday.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

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