General manager at the Foundry says a the brawl started as beef between two rival crews
LAKEWOOD -- It's the fighting that most will remember from Firefest 2014, the two-day heavy metal and hardcore music fest at the Foundry Concert Club.
Lakewood police say they arrested 23 people after a shots were fired and a fight broke out.
The club's general manager, Mark Witherspoon, says the brawl started as beef between two rival crews.
"After about 30 seconds or so of smack talking, they just started fighting, and it turned from one on one to two on one to three on one very quickly," said Jeff Koteles, who works in audio for the club and witnessed the fight.
The crowd dispersed when sirens came blaring just two minutes later.
"It was kind of an old school rumble, I guess -- with some weapons," said Chief Tim Malley.
Malley says no one was hit by the gunfire, but baseball bats, knives and other weapons left a lot of blood behind. Five people were taken to the hospital for treatment. One is still admitted at MetroHealth Medical Center.
Police are still investigating how it started, but Witherspoon says there were two sides: Swing on Sight Family or SOSF out of Youngstown, and Friends Stand United or FSU of Boston. The two are a subculture of hardcore music fans.
"Hardcore. ... They band together in a different way. They band together in a 'I'm against society way and I use whatever means necessary,' " he said.
Witherspoon says some but not all fans of "hardcore" music are part of these fragmented culture groups that at times are known for their violence. But it's never something he expected at his show.
"They don't think of themselves as gangsters. They think of themselves as a brotherhood who have each other's back," he said.
And this fight isn't the scene the Foundry wants to be known for. Witherspoon says he'll now be avoiding crew-affiliated bands. They are also refunding those who got to be part of an hourslong crime scene investigation instead of a concert.
"We're trying to turn this around and show people that there is a music scene, and it is alive, and it's not a negative scene. It's not what happened the other day," said Witherspoon.
Lakewood police are working with Cuyahoga County prosecutors to build a case around witness statements from dozens of people as well as other evidence.
Weapons charges, assault and others are expected to be added. Malley says even more people could be charged as well because he's sure some got away from police.
Cleveland Police Sgt. Ali Pillow says, while the department is aware of the two crews, they aren't known for problems around the city.