Riot erupts in Old Town

Aug 222010
Authors: Johnny Hart

Violence and rioting erupted early Sunday morning just hours after Earth, Wind & Fire lit up the Old Town stage at Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest.

Fort Collins Police Services responded to three separate disturbances in the area involving large crowds of people, after which a crowd of approximately 400 descended upon the corner of Mountain and College Avenues, according to police.

FCPS spokeswoman Rita Davis said in a release that rioters were throwing “beer bottles, patio furniture and other objects at police, damaged cars, stole items from NewWestFest vendor tents, and set trash cans on fire.”

Curious about the passing SWAT and police vehicles, Hugo Caballero, 18, and Taylor Lods, 18, of Fort Collins, said they headed toward Old Town Square where they met police with riot shields and tear gas.

“Next thing we know, cops were running at us with paintball guns,” Lods said. According to both Lods and Caballero, along with others at the scene early Sunday, police had used paintballs filled with mace on the overwhelming crowd.

One bystander on the scene ran off a slew of obscenities at officers, saying he’d been “shot and maced” with the paintballs.
According to the release, several people were injured during the incident. Two people who were thrown through a window were taken to a hospital for treatment.

An official at Poudre Valley Hospital confirmed that several people were taken to the hospital with injuries resulting from the riot. No officers were injured.

Several people were issued citations on the scene for disorderly conduct and fighting in public, and arrests may be pending, according to the release.

As of mid-morning Sunday, CSU Public Relations said FCPS had not identified any students as participants, but CSU spokeswoman Dell Rae Moellenberg said the university will be notified by the department if any student is implicated in the riot.

“If there were students involved, as bystanders or participants, in addition to facing criminal charges from police, they will face disciplinary action from the university,” Moellenberg said.

The Fort Collins Downtown Business Association called the incident “unfortunate and not a true representation of the safe and enjoyable environment that the community has come to know,” in a release Sunday.

The association said crowds from Saturday’s Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest event had emptied the area before any fighting began and vendors had emptied inventory before the concert.

SWAT team, Larimer County deputies and the CSU Police Department assisted FCPS with the incident.

Managing Editor Johnny Hart can be reached at

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