L.A. official calls for probe of Internet Cafes

A Los Angeles city councilman has called for an investigation of violence at so-called Internet cafes, a step that could prompt a crackdown on the popular and controversial sites for PC-based games.

The investigation of the cybercafes, also known as "PC bangs" or "cybercafes," came after a brawl erupted between rival groups playing in a tournament involving the online combat game "Counter Strike."

One unidentified teenager was shot in the leg on Monday outside an Internet cafe in Northridge, a suburb that is part of Los Angeles. A second youth was struck in the head, reportedly with a chair.

About 100 people had gathered at the NetStreet Internet Cafe at the time of the melee, with witnesses reporting that fighters had wielded metal chairs and pipes. In July a 19-year-old man was shot and killed outside his home as he returned from a gaming session at NetStreet.

Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine said on Thursday he plans to introduce a motion at a hearing next week asking for a report from the Los Angeles Police Department on recent outbreaks of violence at cybercafes.

Much of the violence at Orange County cybercafes has been blamed on Asian gang disputes. The Northridge brawl is also being investigated by a Los Angeles police unit that investigates Asian gang-related crimes. "Gang violence can occur anywhere but what gang members do is they identify locations where people congregate and then they want to put a stranglehold on and take over," Zine, a former LAPD officer, told Reuters.

Zine has said he was concerned that Internet cafes featuring violent games had become unsafe for the minors who frequent them and raised the prospect of imposing an age restriction on the businesses.

News source: Reuters News Internet

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