Commerce Mayor John Soria said Monday he plans to press charges against two people he contends attacked him at a meeting of local government officials at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort during an altercation involving two Commerce city councilmen.
Soria issued a statement Monday about the brawl, which was reported about 12:30 a.m. Saturday during a California Contract Cities Association meeting.
According to Soria, Mayor Pro Tem Ivan Altamirano and Councilman Leonard Mendoza were having a conversation that “became elevated and I went to the area to defuse any potential conflict.”
“Upon arriving I witnessed Mr. Mendoza on the floor, apparently unconscious and Mr. Altamirano standing nearby with a facial injury,” Soria said.
Soria said he attempted to establish “a safe distance between people standing in the area and Mr. Altamirano” while others attempted to render aid to Mendoza.
“Within seconds Mr. Altamirano and I were attacked from behind by two individuals,” Soria said. “Mr. Altamirano was knocked to the ground and I was further attacked by these two individuals, being punched several times on the head and face from which I sustained multiple injuries,” he said.
“I know who the attackers are, but I will refrain from naming them at this time so that the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department can conduct a thorough investigation,” Soria said.
“I want to be clear in condemning the violent behavior from the individuals who initiated these assaults,” he said. “Violence is never the answer, and as elected officials we are held to a higher standard. Such behavior is unacceptable and is an embarrassment to the people of Commerce and Southeast Los Angeles.”
Mendoza told the Los Angeles Times he remembers having a heated discussion with Altamirano, and he asked Altamirano to back away, but he wouldn’t.
“I guess he didn’t like that and it got heated and it got loud,” Mendoza told the paper.
Mendoza said that a short time later, he felt a blow from behind, and the next thing he remembers is waking up at a hospital.
“It must’ve been one of those things where I got knocked out with one punch,” he said, adding that he does not know who hit him.
Riverside sheriff’s officials said over the weekend they responded to the resort, but no arrests were made, and only one person — Mendoza — was hospitalized with minor injuries.
The city of Commerce issued a statement Sunday saying that since the confrontation occurred in another jurisdiction “and the fact that the city is unclear on the specifics, the city has no further comment at this time.”