Cyber cafés have recent problems with teen violence

The Associated Press
Thursday January 03, 2002

GARDEN GROVE — Cyber cafes in this Orange County city are attracting an unruly crowd and city officials are worried about the safety of children after a murder over the weekend. 

Cyber cafes are one of the fastest growing businesses in Orange County, where teens and young adults frequently can be found logging onto the Internet and playing video games. Some locations stay open as late as 4 a.m. 

There are 19 cafes in Garden Grove, a city of 151,000 about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. Police said there have been an increasing amount of problems at the businesses. 

On Sunday, Phoung Huu Ly, 20, of Santa Ana was killed after he was stabbed with an 8-inch screwdriver outside the PC Cafe. Police believe the slaying was gang-related, although the victim was not a gang member. 

“We are going to have to do something to curtail this activity,” said Mayor Bruce Broadwater. “It’s got to be a safe environment.” 

In November, four teens wielding baseball bats attacked two boys at the same cafe. The victims had moderate injuries and were taken to the hospital. 

Last month, a 21-year-old man was stabbed in the arm at I-Net PC Cafe, which moved to Garden Grove from nearby Westminster after officials revoked its permit. 

“We’ve seen fights and a stabbing and now a homicide,” said Sgt. Mike Handfield. “There’s an escalation of violence, and there’s nothing to restrict the hours or the age group.” 

But business owners said they have enforced some strict rules on their patrons. At PC Cafe, there is no yelling, no cursing and no racial slurs. The business also has surveillance cameras and may add a security guard after Sunday’s killing. 

“It didn’t happen because of this place,” PC employee John Park said.. “Once in a while, gang-bangers do come to play games, and if they see their rivals, stuff happens. But like other entertainment places - bowling alleys, movie theaters - it’s not like we are the only ones having problems.”