MARION, Ala. – Two Alabama families that had been fighting for years turned their feud into a full-scale riot Monday outside a small-town city hall, with up to 150 screaming people hurling tire irons and wielding baseball bats.
Eight people were arrested, and at least four were hurt, Trooper John Reese said. Two were taken to hospitals. The town's police chief was hit in the head with a crowbar but was OK.
The two- or three-year-old feud apparently prompted a fight earlier in the day at a high school, after a window was shot out of a home Sunday night. Then, "all hell broke loose" later in the day, said Sgt. Carlton Hogue of the Perry County Sheriff's Department.
"It was a full-scale riot is what it was," said Tony Long, mayor of the town of 3,300 about 85 miles west of Montgomery.
Hogue said the rioters were "throwing jack irons, throwing tire irons, anything they could get their hands on." Some people carried baseball bats and brooms.
Reese said two people were arrested at the high school during the initial disturbance. Relatives of the people who were arrested followed officers to police headquarters at city hall, and then the melee erupted.
Six more people were arrested at city hall, Reese said, and police called in reinforcements from surrounding cities. Some officers wore riot gear, and many planned to stay overnight to help maintain order.
The mayor said he wasn't sure what sparked the fracas.
"Everybody's trying to point the finger at everybody," he said.
Judson College, a church-affiliated women's school with about 300 students in downtown Marion, issued an alert asking students to stay out of the downtown area for 24 hours as a precaution.