Two Laguna Beach hotels were shut down on Wednesday after a violent 20-person brawl broke out a day earlier.
Authorities ordered Hotel Laguna and 14 West Laguna Beach to close “due to unsafe conditions and to protect the health and safety of the public, people inside the premises and Laguna Beach Police officers,” said Laguna Beach City Manager Shohreh Dupuis.
On Tuesday, police responded to separate disturbances at two Laguna Beach hotels. At both locations, there were “trespassing claims and a physical altercation occurring between two different security teams armed with firearms as part of an ongoing civil dispute over operating and management authority at the hotel properties.”
In the morning at 14 West, officers responded to an armed security guard causing a disturbance. The parties were separated and agreed they would “remain civil.”
Later that afternoon, a 20-person physical altercation between the same parties and others took place in the Hotel Laguna lobby and later again at 14 West in the evening, officials said.
Investigators determined “a security guard had struck an opposing security guard,” authorities said. “As both security teams were armed, police responded accordingly.”
Described as a fistfight, officers said it was “a very dangerous and scary situation. The officers were able to go in there and de-escalate the entire scene and identify who the primary aggressor was and immediately take them into custody.”
Following the violent incidents, the city shut down both hotels, with the parties agreeing to unarm their security guards.
One suspect was arrested at the scene — Hadda Banayotis, 47, of Jurupa Valley. He was initially placed under citizens’ arrest for battery and was later released from police custody on a signed notice to appear in court. The OCDA will review the case and determine whether charges will be filed.
“This is a civil issue that has resulted in both parties hiring armed security and attempting to force the other from the businesses,” said Police Chief Jeff Calvert. “Both sides have been warned but unfortunately, neither side will relent and take the appropriate actions through the civil judicial process. Immediate closure of the businesses will allow a cooling off period for both parties and protect the public from inadvertently being caught up in the middle of a civil issue that has the potential to become more violent.”
“Under our provision of nuisance abatement, the city manager is authorized to take action and close buildings or public right-of-ways or public roads when there is an unsafe situation,” explained Dupuis. “So in order to protect the public, I decided late last night to issue the nuisance order and close both properties.”
Lawsuits have since been filed by both parties involved as the investigation remains ongoing.