Three Sonora residents were arrested early Monday after an argument at a downtown Sonora bar escalated into a brawl on South Washington Street, during which a 57-year-old man sustained head injuries.
According to Sonora Police Department logs, at least six people may have been involved in the fight, but bystanders could identify no more than the three suspects and the victim, Sonora Chief of Police Turu VanderWiel said.
VanderWiel said officers are gathering additional bystander and witness statements and seeking surveillance footage.
The fight began as an argument in Zane’s Iron Horse Lounge in downtown Sonora, VanderWiel said. Witnesses said the victim had made “disrespectful comments to other patrons in the bar.”
“At some point that person was pushed or escorted out of the bar, and then the physical altercation ensued directly after,” he said.
Outside of Zane’s Iron Horse Lounge, somewhere between Linoberg Street and The Office bar, on the sidewalk, the argument turned physical, VanderWiel said.
The 57-year-old man was taken out of the bar by two bar patrons, VanderWiel said, but a third person who “did not appear to be present at Zane’s bar when the incident began” arrived and began to kick and beat the victim while he was on the ground.
By the time officers arrived at 12:02 a.m., the men had separated and the fight was over, VanderWiel said.
The two Sonora men who had escorted the 57-year-old man out of the bar were detained at the scene.
The third man who came later to the fight had left and was found walking southbound on Stewart Street near Church Street.
According to photographs from the Sonora Police Department, the third man was dressed in a vest with an insignia from a local motorcycle club.
“We don't know of any connection to the club as far as this incident and we’re not even sure why Jacques was involved in the altercation,” VanderWiel said.
VanderWiel said that at least two of the suspects may have been intoxicated. There was no information about whether the victim was intoxicated.
“The focus on that was getting his medical needs attended to and trying to understand from his perspective as well,” he said.
The victim sustained head injuries and was taken to a hospital in the valley for treatment. VanderWiel said he did not have an update on the person’s condition as of Monday afternoon.
The man was able to provide a “brief and limited statement” to an officer after the fight, he said.
Officers arrested Joseph Garcia, 44, of Sonora, Avery Smith, 24, of Sonora, and Ariz Jacques, 26, of Sonora. All were booked into the Tuolumne County Jail on suspicion of felony battery.
Their bail was set at $50,000 each.
As of 3 p.m. Monday, Garcia and Smith remained in the custody of the Tuolumne County Jail and Jacques had bonded out of custody.
VanderWiel said that fights, public drunkenness and other consequences from downtown bars was “always a concern.”
“People do tend to get involved in altercations when they've been drinking. We’re always keeping a watchful eye,” he said.
The Sonora Police Department allocates specific resources to certain times of the night and days of the week when fights or other bar-related activities “are more likely to happen,” he said.