Danny Trejo says race was a factor in Fourth of July brawl launched by a water balloon

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To Danny Trejo, the people who hurled water balloons at him during a Fourth of July celebration in Sunland-Tujunga are “bullies” and “cowards” who racially targeted the Latino screen legend and his friends.

“I’m sad. I’m just sad that there’s still people like from the ‘50s and ‘60s that still feel the same way,” he said about the incident to TMZ, “because no one else was targeted.”

The “Machete” star and Trejos Tacos restaurateur, 80, opened up about his experience in the water balloon incident and the subsequent brawl that went viral during the holiday. A fight broke out Thursday during a parade hosted by a local Rotary Club, where Trejo was a guest.

Trejo and his friend, Mario Castillo, were among the people driving down the parade route in a white convertible low-rider on Foothill Boulevard. The vehicle came to a stop after someone threw a water balloon at the car, according to the video shared on social media, and the “From Dusk Till Dawn” actor stepped out to confront a group of attendees on the sidewalk.

He would not have left his vehicle if someone hadn’t yelled that the balloon was filled with acid, he told TMZ in a video interview. “That’s when I got panicked,” he explained, before adding he was concerned for the bystanders surrounding his car.

Arnie Abramyan, president of the Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce, told The Times last week that there was a designated area on the parade route where people could use Super Soakers and water balloons, but Trejo hadn’t arrived at that part of the route when he was hit with a water balloon.

Trejo said he confronted the person who he suspected threw the balloon and replied “C’mon” when the TMZ reporter asked whether he felt the water balloon attack was racially targeted.

Castillo, who sustained injuries to his eye and arms from the brawl, claimed “it was targeted.”

“There was nobody else getting hit with balloons in front of us or behind us. They were just at our low-riders,” Castillo added, as Trejo nodded his head seemingly in agreement.

Trejo also shared his side of the story to Fox 11, telling the outlet “I hate bullies, and that’s what bullies do.” He did not disclose any details about the suspect’s identity, but Castillo told the channel the person who allegedly threw the balloons was a “grown man, skinhead, [who had] tattoos.”

The “Spy Kids” and “Machete Kills” actor told several outlets that he was “sad” about the incident. He seemingly took accountability for his part in the violence this past Thursday, telling TMZ, “I’m so sad that I behaved the way that I behaved.”

He added: “I’m so sad that grown men gotta throw water balloons to enjoy a day.”

The Sunland/Tujunga/Shadow Hills Rotary Club, which hosted the Fourth of July celebration, lamented the “disheartening” altercation in a statement shared on Facebook over the weekend. The club criticized the “unfortunate actions by a very small group of people…that caused harm to both parade spectators and participants.” The missive also offered an apology to Trejo and his team “that their show of good will was marred by the disrespectful actions of some of those along the parade route.”

The Fourth of July celebration began at 10 a.m. At 11:10, Foothill officers responded to a radio call of an assault suspect at the intersection of McVine Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department told The Times. Police confirmed there was a physical altercation and reported no injuries and no arrests.

Trejo has seemingly moved on from the altercation unscathed, smiling and laughing in his video interviews and celebrating National Video Game Day on Monday via Instagram ( he says Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizon” is his favorite game).

“I would be embarrassed if I attacked an 80-year-old man and he’s still talking and laughing,” Trejo said to TMZ.

Times staff writer Summer Lin contributed to this report.

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