Police handed out fewer citations Thursday than they normally do during Ashland's Halloween celebration downtown, though a clash between two groups near the Plaza ended in a stabbing with non-life-threatening injuries.
The victim's name has not been released but he was transported to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center after the street brawl, reported at 10:43 p.m. The man was released Friday morning, said police, who are on the lookout for a suspect in the violent confrontation.
Leading up to the fight, one group of three adult males, which included the victim, were entering Ashland's downtown area on foot via North Main Street, near the intersection with Bush Street. The fight occurred with a separate group of five individuals who were leaving the downtown area on foot, Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness said.
The group of five included three males and two females, Holderness said, but the females did not participate in the physical exchange.
"We're not exactly sure what happened during that time, but for some reason the males in those groups started to fight," he said.
Holderness described the suspect as a bald Hispanic man in his mid 20s, about 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. He was possibly wearing jeans and a gray T-shirt and is believed to have injuries on his face consistent with having been in a fight.
The suspect, along with the other four people in the group, were seen driving toward Talent on North Main Street in a late model SUV-style automobile with rounded rear-end bodywork, Holderness said.
Police have no reason to believe the fight was gang-related, Holderness added.
Police are asking anyone who has information about the incident to call Detective Rick Spence at 541-552-2172.
About 30 officers from Ashland, Talent, Phoenix and Medford patrolled the streets of Ashland on Halloween. They issued eight citations during the celebration, which drew a crowd of about 1,000 people to the Plaza, Holderness said.
Five citations were issued for drinking alcohol openly in public.
The other citations were for possession of a controlled substance, disorderly conduct and domestic assault, Holderness said, adding police arrested the individual cited for disorderly conduct.
Those statistics are citywide, but most of the misbehavior was linked to Halloween celebrants.
Last year, police handed out 11 citations, mostly for possession of marijuana. In 2011, police issued 17 citations, also mostly for possession of marijuana.
In 2009, when Halloween fell on a Saturday, police arrested 29 people. In 2008, police made 37 arrests on Halloween.
"Aside from the stabbing, it was pretty much like it has been for the last couple years," Holderness said. "Every year it seems to be a little mellower."
In 2004, Ashland's Halloween celebration was marred by unruly crowds, which topped 3,000 on the Plaza, with numerous fights, a stabbing and a fire in an elevator.
That year, problems included people throwing bricks and beer bottles at police cars and store windows, as well as numerous minors in possession of alcohol and several fights.
"I think that Ashland (Halloween) over the last six or seven years has been much better ... because there is such a presence of law enforcement in the downtown area," Holderness said. "We don't do anything to spoil people's fun, but we don't let people get violent, or we try to intervene as quickly as possible when we see something happening."
Holderness said police were able to respond rapidly to Thursday's stabbing, even though it occurred outside the perimeter established by police for the Plaza celebration.
He said the stabbing victim's name will be released later.
Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.