High school brawls prompt Antioch Taco Bell to close doors part time

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- A fast food restaurant in the East Bay is closing its doors during the afternoon in response to problems it blames on high school students.

The drive-thru at a Taco Bell in Antioch will stay open, but the doors to the store will be locked to keep those kids out.

On Sept. 5 in Antioch a benign gathering by students from Deer Valley High school in the Deer Valley Plaza and turned into an all-out brawl among students. That fight was captured on a cellphone.

Shoppers and merchants say that kind of behavior is quite common.

"They are disrespectful. They fight," Jessica Tran, a business owner said.

"My 12-year-old son got jumped at the FoodMaxx by four Deer Valley High School Students for $8," Damon Price said. "They hit him in the eye"

The climate has become so dangerous that starting Thursday, a Taco Bell in the plaza closed its lobby to students getting out of school. A nearby McDonald's did the same.

A Taco Bell spokesperson said that the health and safety of the company's customers and employees is a top priority. "Temporarily, our franchisee is limiting service to the drive-thru only during the hours of 3 to 5 p.m. and they is proactively working with the local police to develop additional ways to assure the safety of the community," according to the company.

In response, a show of force from school officials and Antioch police, who acknowledge an intermittent problem that has come and gone for years, and led to arrests.

"Battery, assault, possession of drugs, those kinds of violations," Allan Cantando, Antioch Police chief said.

With the mall under a microscope, the teenagers behaved better Thursday. Police detained one student for jaywalking.

The Antioch Unified School District superintendent Donald Gill said he plans to close gates on campus when school lets out to alter walking patterns, but mostly he's frustrated by the lack of influence the district has on the students once they leave the property.

"I would not say our position is powerless," Gill said. "Our jurisdiction is limited."

Antioch police say they cannot be in all places at all times. They have asked the mall's owner, to take more responsibility for security.

"The property owner has a responsibility to makes sure their customers and people on their property are safe," Cantando said. From a police perspective, Cantando added that he doesn't think the mall owner is keeping people out of harms way.

The mall's owner, known as the Chiu Family Trust, has been criticized in the past for maintenance issues and for a lack of security. The Pleasanton-based Chiu Family Trust did not return calls placed by ABC7 News.
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