An 18-year-old has been pinned between two cars, crushing his leg, after a mass brawl broke out at a record label launch at an inner-Melbourne live music pub.
Five others were taken to hospital after about 200 people spilled out of the Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood about 2.30am on Sunday.
The brawl moved to nearby Mater Street, where a car drove into pedestrians about 2.45am.
“During the affray, a car has collided with a number of parked cars on Mater Street itself and pinned one person against the vehicle,” Commander Tim Hansen told reporters.
The 18-year-old man suffered a serious leg injury. It’s not yet clear whether he was a bystander or part of the brawl.
A total of six people, aged between 18 and 21, were treated in hospital with varying injuries.
The 66 Records launch was attended mostly by Pacific Islander and African Australians, Commander Hansen said, adding police monitored the event because of recent incidents associated with the communities.
“It’s not uncommon when we have an event in the CBD at a licensed premise for us to task particular patrols to keep a watching brief on that.”
But he said there was no intelligence suggesting it would be a “high-risk event”.
“It’s come from sort of left field as far as escalating in the behaviour.”
Police expect to arrest a person of interest linked to the car by Monday.
That car was seriously damaged, along with two parked cars.
Commander Hansen could not definitively say it was deliberately crashed into the 18-year-old.
He said other potential persons of interest fled the scene when police arrived. No arrests had been made by early Sunday evening.
“It was certainly a chaotic scene when police arrived there last night,” the commander said.
A Mater Street resident, who did not want to be named, said she was woken up in her first-floor apartment by yelling and screaming at 2.30am.
She said she was not scared and that brawlers didn’t even notice her when she went onto the street to film the fight.
“They were all too busy fighting.”
The resident said she again went down to speak to police when they arrived and to ask “why they weren’t doing anything”.
Commander Hansen said the affray was “horrific behaviour” and he could “understand the level of concern from residents when they wake up to that”.
Event host and 66 Records “active manager” J-Nelly had posted on the event page on Friday to say violence would not be tolerated.
“We had meetings with federal detectives who are very concerned with the energy, which they have related to the latest sparks of new reports degrading the African community as thugs,” he said, writing in all capital letters.
A Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed state police officers, not the AFP, met event organisers and said this occurred with most major events in Melbourne.
J-Nelly said he was not worried because, “every single individual who is coming [to] the show is a very mature and intellectual young adult”.
“If you have an issue with an individual, let it be and move away. A moment of anger isn’t worth a lifetime of bad labelling.”
Commander Hansen also noted some issues had been raised over the quality of CCTV inside the Gasometer.
“There’s a standard on that sort of thing so we need to go back, make sure that meets the compliance requirements,” he said.
Detectives remained on the scene on Sunday afternoon, with Smith Street blocked between Alexandra Parade and Hotham Street.
Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Sunday the behaviour was “completely unacceptable”.
“Police have more resources than they ever have and … they have the determination to deal with these gang issues,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“This is a shocking incident, one that will not be tolerated.”
Liberal Opposition police spokesperson Edward O’Donohue accused the government of being soft on crime.
“Daniel Andrews says these violent riots are unacceptable, but the reality is they’ve become all too acceptable under his government.”