Police responded to uncontrollable partygoers Friday and Saturday nights in two major outbursts this weekend in Fort Collins.
Friday night’s disruption occurred early Saturday morning on the 600 block of Howes Street and Laurel Avenue, just one block north of the CSU campus. Tear gas was eventually deployed at 12:15 a.m., police said.
Three people were arrested for rioting and obstructing police officers and at least a dozen were cited for noise violations. Property damage was minimal and no one was injured, police said.
Saturday night’s riot occurred on Plum and Bluebell streets. Furniture, branches and street signs were burned on Bluebell Street and at least one car was tipped over before police dispersed the crowd.
Several people were treated on the scene for cuts and minor injuries. One person was transferred to Poudre Valley Hospital after being assaulted.
Rita Davis, Fort Collins Police Services spokesperson, said the rioters’ actions were inappropriate and disrespectful to those who were disturbed or hurt.
“This type of inappropriate and unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated,” Davis said.
Forty police officers responded to the Saturday scene after receiving a call from a man reporting a large crowd on Bluebell Street. The caller said the party was out of control and assistance was needed to break up the crowd. Police arrived and began dispersing the crowd at about 12:55 a.m.
Approximately 600 partygoers had formed a large crowd in the middle of the street. Some threw branches, boxes, road signs and a couch on the fire as others vandalized cars parked in front of 732 Bluebell St. Several people leapt over the fire as crowds cheered them on.
Greg Delich, a junior history major at CSU, watched helplessly as his 2001 Saturn sat parked in the crowd.
“I didn’t know if I should move my car or not because I would have run over some people,” Delich said. “This was the closest car to the fire. I thought it might have got pushed in the fire, that’s why I was worried.”
Delich’s car suffered a cracked windshield, shattered windows and severe body damage during the riot.
He called his mother, who lives in Loveland, early Sunday morning and tried to explain the damage to his car over the phone.
“If they had camera shots and if I knew who did it, I’d press charges,” Delich said.
Not only did vehicles on the street receive damage, but Bluebell Street resident Marti Shearin also experienced vandalism in her yard.
“They ripped a tree out of my yard,” said Shearin, a Ph.D. student in CSU’s veterinary program. “They even took my tomato plants.”
Shearin was upset by how long it took Fort Collins police to respond to the incident.
“It took the police probably an hour and a half to get down here,” she said.
Aaron Reif, a computer information systems major who lives across the street from Shearin, said he called the police at about 11:30 p.m.
At 12:55 a.m. police warned the rioters to disperse and then fired tear gas into the crowd. The area was cleared at about 1:15 a.m.
Police issued twelve noise-violation citations and arrested two people for obstruction. Reif said he and his neighbor were fined $10,000 in noise violations. He plans to contest the fine.
“We just had a small gathering,” Reif said.
Several people tried to quell the situation before police arrived. Erik Jackson, a partygoer, helped with one of the overturned cars.
“I know the people who live here and I’m just trying to help out,” Jackson said.
Mayor Ray Martinez said he takes the riots seriously.
“We shouldn’t have to worry about this,” Martinez said, “but the bottom line is that we do. We should be doing a lot more pre-planning.”
Martinez said the university has agreed to take a “very strong stance” toward any students who are arrested.
“I hold us accountable for not doing more,” he said, pointing out that riots tend to occur most often at the beginning of the school year, during graduation and during important football games.
“We’re not going to take this lightly,” Martinez said. “I will be visiting with the city manager and chief of police.”
He said he will ask these people to be more accountable.
Martinez said he believed the riot was probably related to classes beginning today.
Some students disagreed.
Sociology major Adam Meyers believed that Saturday night’s riot was “definitely a response” to Friday night’s riot.
“A big response,” agreed Kevin Cohrs, an open-option student who could not get to his car that was parked in the area tear-gassed by police.
“(Saturday night’s) actions were in response to the police’s action (Friday). The kids were just starting crap because they wanted the cops to show up,” Meyers said. “People were just chanting ‘riot.'”
Additional citations and arrests are pending.
Breakout Box #1 – Friday’s riot
Approximately 1,500 people
600 Block of South Howes Street.
31 Officers responded
Minimal property damage
Three arrests, approximately 12 noise citations
Breakout Box #2 – Saturday’s riot
Approximately 500-600 people
Bluebell and Plum Streets
40 Officers responded
Cars damaged, tree limbs and street signs burned
Several minor injuries, one male taken to hospital (beaten by crowd members)
Two arrests, approximately 12 noise citations