CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WECT) - Police officers responding to a large assault in Carolina Beach were outnumbered, according to the beach town's Chief of Police.
Chief Kurt Bartley said Thursday that officers did everything they could that night without sacrificing the safety of themselves or anyone else involved.
A brawl between two groups of about 30 people each broke out after everyone left a party cruise Saturday night. Everything was fine on the boat, according to police, but the melee that followed put four people from the Wilmington area in the hospital.
Officers from neighboring Kure Beach responded to the scene, but the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office had its own investigation that night. Deputies were searching for a murder suspect.
As of Thursday, no arrests have been made in the Carolina Beach case. The detective on the case said he's had several witnesses positively identify a few suspects, and he expects to serve warrants soon.
Bartley explained that there are numerous reasons that no one was arrested the night of the assault.
"I understand that some people might feel that nothing happened," said Bartley. "We just have to go about it in a different way."
That means a full investigation to find exactly what happened. Scribbled notes and quick arrests would not make as strong of a case as detailed descriptions and proper paperwork, according to Bartley.
"We want to make sure that we get the facts for the court," he said.
Facts need to be fleshed out when officers arrive after the fact. Records of 911 notes show that officers responded within minutes of the first call, but Bartley said they still missed most of the action. Without an officer serving as a witness, the police cannot rely on he said, she said.
Everyone at the scene was identified, according to detectives. That includes a party bus full of people from the Clinton area. Detectives said they're confident that they'll make the right arrests in this case regardless of where the suspects might be.
Chief Bartley noted that this incident is the first one for Carolina Beach in a number of years. He encourages people not to be turned away from the beach town for what happened.
"Carolina Beach is still very safe," he said.
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