An early morning assault outside Steiner’s saloon on March 23 sent a 27-year-old Boyes Hot Springs man to Sonoma Valley Hospital with five large lacerations that Sonoma police said required between 40 and 50 stitches.

The incident occurred around 1:30 a.m. when the victim was leaving the bar and a man, later identified as 21-year-old Juan Chavarria, allegedly hit him over the head with a glass bottle.

The victim fell to the ground outside the saloon and three to four men then began kicking him in the head.

A crowd estimated at close to 150 people inside and outside the establishment was present when the assault took place, and some pointed out the assailants as they attempted to escape through the Plaza.

Four police officers responded to the event, and found the victim lying on the ground in a pool of blood. One of the officers spotted two men in black sweatshirts walking away across the Plaza and ordered them to stop and lie down; one did, the other, whom the officer recognized as Chavarria, kept walking.

With just four officers, numerous suspects and a dark night, police had their hands full, but Chavarria was eventually handcuffed and placed in a police car while officers dealt with another reluctant participant, 25-year-old Gustavo Mateo, who defiantly told police, “F--- you, I’m not talking to you.”

Mateo continued to defy police orders and was eventually handcuffed and charged with obstructing/resisting arrest and being drunk in public.

A third man, 22-year-old Erik Garcia, also resisted arrest and had to be tackled and taken to the ground. Garcia was charged with obstructing/resisting arrest and a probation violation.

A witness then told police that a fourth man, identified as David Garcia, 21, of Sonoma, the brother of Erik Garcia, had chased him down the street swinging a knife at him. David Garcia was being sought over the weekend, charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Several witnesses, meanwhile, positively identified Chavarria as the man who hit the victim on the head with a bottle.

Interviewed at the hospital, the victim had difficulty speaking because his jaw hurt. He told police he had consumed three or four beers in the saloon, had gotten up to leave when he accidentally bumped shoulders with a short Hispanic man wearing glasses. He said he did not know the man and that he had not provoked a fight. At least three other witnesses corroborated that account.

Police said all four suspects, Chavarria, Erik Garcia, David Garcia and Mateo, are members of the norteño criminal street gang.

Chavarria was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon and he, Erik Garcia and Gustavo Mateo were booked into the county jail. Police continue to look for David Garcia.