Bloody Brawl Erupts Between Officials at Contract Cities Event

An annual meeting of the California Contract Cities Association (CCCA) devolved into pure chaos Saturday as a bloody brawl erupted between several attendees, including members of the Commerce City Council.

Police were summoned to the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa at around 12:30 a.m., according to a spokesman with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. The row, which reportedly involved more than seven people, left one city official unconscious and in need of hospitalization.

Commerce Mayor John Soria and other witnesses who spoke to the Los Angeles Times confirmed that councilmen Leonard Mendoza and Ivan Altamirano were involved. A photograph circulating online shows Mendoza on the ground surrounded by drops of blood while someone checks his pulse.

The mayor says he was trying to render assistance when he too was attacked.

From the Los Angeles Times:

"Soria said in his statement that he was told that Mendoza and a council colleague, Ivan Altamirano, were having a conversation that had 'become elevated' so he 'went to the area to defuse any potential conflict.' He said that when he approached, he saw Mendoza on the floor 'apparently unconscious,' and Altamirano 'standing nearby with a facial injury.'

Soria, a civilian law enforcement technician for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said he and Altamirano were then attacked 'from behind by two individuals.' He did not identify the assailants, saying he wanted to let law enforcement conduct a thorough investigation. He said he would file a police report and press charges.

'I want to be clear in condemning the violent behavior from the individuals who initiated these assaults,' Soria said. 'Once additional information is available, I intend to call on my council colleagues to take appropriate action regarding any individuals that represent the City of Commerce who were involved in the incident.'"

Mendoza also spoke to the Times. He says he couldn’t see who hit him because it happened from behind. The blow followed a heated exchange between he and Altamirano. Mendoza suffered a gash along the back of his head and cuts to his face.

It’s not clear how at least four other people became involved, but the group is said to have included lobbyists and city vendors. There were no arrests made.

Commerce released the following statement Saturday:

"The City has been made aware of reports of a confrontation between some City officials that took place outside of the City's jurisdiction. Given that, and the fact that the City is unclear on the specifics, the City has no further comment at this time."

On Monday, the CCCA announced it was suspending Commerce’s membership. The statement reads:

“The California Contract Cities Association (CCCA) Executive Board has voted unanimously to immediately suspend the agency membership of the City of Commerce until further notice. The action precludes the participation of any City of Commerce elected official or staff member in future CCCA events until further notice. Once the appropriate investigations have concluded, the CCCA Executive Board may take further action as necessary.

The California Contract Cities Association condemns, in the strongest terms, the behavior of those involved in the incident. While this incident took place on the property of the conference hotel outside of CCCA-sanctioned conference programming, violent behavior is unacceptable and inconsistent with the values of our Association and members.The CCCA Executive Board calls upon all witnesses of the incident to cooperate with law enforcement investigating the matter.

The Association has made clear - both in adopted policy and in related communications - the high expectations we have for our members. Violations of our Code of Conduct are taken seriously as evidenced by this action.

The Contract Cities Code of Conduct can be found on the Association's website:"