In the wake of a shooting before a post-race Ice Cube concert in September, the Del Mar racetrack is beefing up its security.
For the fall racing meet that began Friday, Nov. 9, the track will use metal detectors for two post-race concerts. The first is Saturday, Nov. 10, when the reggae band Pepper performs. The second is Nov. 24, featuring country music singer Easton Corbin.
The metal detectors will be positioned on the asphalt apron to the west of the grandstand. That is the entry point for spectators to the fenced concert area.
The main entry gates to the racetrack grounds will function as in the past, without metal detectors. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club CEO Joe Harper said Friday that metal detectors were discussed for the main entrance in meetings with law enforcement, but it was decided selective bag checks and a larger security presence was preferable.
“Law enforcement is very happy with the way we’re doing it now,” Harper said. “We feel comfortable. We want to make it a happy place, not an iron camp.”
Del Mar officials are encouraging fans to prepare for longer wait times to enter the concert area. Separate entry lanes will be available to those with bags, those without, and for Del Mar employees with identification badges, anyone holding a California Horse Racing Board license, and those with ADA access.
On Sept. 2, the penultimate day of Del Mar’s summer meet, a disgruntled fan — identified as 22-year-old Daniel Elizarraras — who couldn’t get a ticket to the sold-out Ice Cube concert used a handgun to fire two shots into the air near the main entrance. A sheriff’s deputy first attempted to use a Taser on the shooter, but when it malfunctioned, the deputy shot Elizarraras four times — three times in the torso and once in an arm.
Elizarraras was rushed to Scripps Memorial Hospital for treatment. Prosecutors filed charges Sept. 7 accusing Elizarraras of assault with a semi-automatic firearm on a peace officer and illegally discharging a firearm with negligence.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in jail in lieu of $300,000 bail. A preliminary hearing for Elizarraras is set for January.
“The measures we had worked,” Harper said. “He never got in the place. He pulled a gun out and was shot almost instantly by a sheriff, and we’d expanded their numbers here (for the concert). As tragic as it was for him, it was, from our point of view, a textbook reaction.”
--Tod Leonard is a reporter for The San Diego Union Tribune