Editor’s note: The names of juveniles in this article have been
changed for legal reasons.
Boys at Turning Point Boys Residential Treatment Center awoke
coughing and choking on tear gas on Aug. 21.
Gas was deployed by Fort Collins Police Services in order to
break up a riot on Bluebell and Plum streets, and it eventually
reached the bedrooms of the boys at Turning Point, 801 South
“I felt a little weird because they said there was teargas
outside and when I went outside my eyes hurt and my throat was
killing me,” said Steve, 17, a Turning Point resident. “I had to
wrap my shirt around my head and I almost got hit by a car.”
Turning Point is a nonprofit organization that is currently
housing 29 boys for a variety of reasons. Some of the residents
live at Turning Point because they have no family or have
incarcerated parents. Other residents are there for committing
“The only warning I heard came over the police loudspeaker,”
said Doug Meyer, a staff member working the overnight shift on the
riot night. “They didn’t come here and warn us.”
Meyer attempted to close all the building’s windows because he
could see the police were only about 50 yards away. Within 20
minutes of the police shooting the tear gas, the building began to
fill up with gas.
The gas leaked through Meyer’s office window, which is located
on the building’s west side. Gas also came through other windows in
the building, including one in a boy’s room.
“Guys were coming out of their rooms with shirts over their
faces,” Meyer said. “Some were tripping.”
Meyer’s first plan was to cross the street in an attempt to get
away from the gas, but he soon noticed the gas was moving in that
direction. He and another staff member decided to get away from the
gas and began loading the boys into the facility’s passenger
“We loaded 22 people in a 15-person van and went to the Shell
station down the street,” Meyer said. “We had to leave some boys
behind and come back for a second trip.”
Meyer said they remained at the Shell station for about two
hours. He walked back to the facility himself about an hour after
evacuating and talked to the police. He received permission to
check out the facility’s condition and went inside to find that the
gas was still really thick inside. He opened all the windows to air
the building out.
“Even when we got back there was still tear gas in here,” said
Peter, 17, a Turning Point resident. “There was a rush of tear gas
when we walked in the house.”
Meyer said one of the boys had to seek medical attention related
to the tear gas’ effects on Sunday but could not go into specifics
because of the boy’s age.
“People affected us and didn’t even know it; we would have never
experienced tear gas,” Peter said. “We have young kids here that
might have been traumatized. We have fire drills and tornado drills
but we don’t have tear gas drills. It sucks seeing other
(roommates) have to go through it.”
Rita Davis, Fort Collins Police Services spokesperson, said the
police did not go door to door to warn people about the gas because
of the riotous condition.
” (Police officers) don’t have the ability to go door to door
because they are trying to control the crowd,” Davis said. “The
police announced over the P.A. system and gave residents time to
Meyer said the boys sleeping on the second floor of the
three-story building thought he was playing a prank when he tried
to wake them up. The boys who live in the building sleep on the
second and third floors.
“The third floor was panicky because the tear gas woke them up,”
Meyer said. “The third floor was a lot worse than the second.”
Meyer also said people driving by the boys when they were
walking back to the facility early Sunday morning were yelling and
threatening them. He said he was very proud of the boys, many of
whom were about 15 years olde, for not responding to the
“On the walk down Shields people driving down the roads were
yelling things at us like ‘freshies’ and ‘rushies,'” Steve said.
“The kids (yelling) looked wasted and they probably were.”
Peter’s view of CSU did not change as a result of the riot and
tear gas, but he did voice his displeasure with how the situation
“I think it’s a normal college; I don’t think any different of
CSU but they could have handled it better than getting resolved
with tear gas,” he said. “I think 2 out of 3 people overreacted –
the rioters and the police with their tear gas. I think more people
should be held accountable (by the university) for their actions.
There were a lot here that were affected.”
The building that houses the boys is called the Newton Center,
and Rose Quinn, therapist and program coordinator at Turning Point,
said it houses 33 boys when full.
“We’re a boys residential treatment program for boys ages 14
to18,” Quinn said.
Some other residents of the surrounding area were affected by
the tear gas used to disperse the crowd.
“I have heard of some people who were concerned who were not
participants in the riot but were gassed,” Davis said. “It’s
unfortunate but it happens.”
Tre, 17, a Turning Point resident, was upset with the police for
using tear gas.
“I was pissed at the police for using tear gas,” Tre said. ” I
just don’t want to get any more tear gas.”