BY: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC NEWS
(DENVER) — An out-of-control street party near the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, on Saturday drew up to 800 people, most appearing to be college-aged, prompting violent clashes with SWAT police who deployed at least one armored vehicle to disperse the crowd, according to authorities.
The bedlam ensued in the University Hill neighborhood as hundreds of people took to the streets just blocks from the university campus, most dispensing with COVID-19 social distancing rules and mask wearing, according to a social media post authenticated by ABC News shows.
During the several hours of chaos, rowdy revelers shooting off fireworks are alleged to have thrown bricks and rocks at police, flipped over a private car and caused heavy damaged to a police armored vehicle and a fire truck, according to a spokesperson for the Boulder Police Department. Three Boulder SWAT team members suffered minor injuries, the spokesperson said.
“Regarding what happened tonight on University Hill, the Boulder Department is reviewing all body worn camera footage and shared social media videos/photos to identify the individuals involved in damaging property and assaulting first responders,” the Boulder Police Department said in a tweet early Sunday.
Colorado University, Boulder, officials condemned the conduct and threatened to permanently expel any student found to have attacked police and other first responders during the mayhem.
“It is unacceptable and irresponsible, particularly in light of the volume of training, communication and enforcement the campus and city have dedicated to ensuring compliance with COVID-19 public health orders. CU Boulder will not tolerate any of our students engaging in acts of violence or damaging property,” the university’s statement said.
Police started receiving complaints about 7 p.m. of a large gathering at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street, about five blocks west of the university campus. At round 8:30 p.m., a SWAT team in an armored vehicle rolled into the neighborhood and a police officer on a loud speaker was heard ordering the crowd to disperse, saying, “This is an unlawful assembly.”
“Due to riot conditions, you are ordered to leave the area. You must leave the area immediately. If you fail to leave, you will be subject to arrest and the use of tear gas,” the police announced.
It was not immediately clear if police used tear gas on clear the street.
By 9 p.m., most of the revelers had cleared out.
“Detectives will review every lead we have to identify and arrest those responsible for this reprehensible and unacceptable behavior,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said in a tweet.
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty released a statement on Sunday, saying his office is working with police detectives to identify suspects who “should be held fully responsible for their outrageous actions.”
“Our community was put at risk last night by the individuals involved in the incident in the Hill area. Their callous disregard for our community’s safety and well-being is shameful,” Dougherty’s statement said. “There is no excuse for this conduct, especially while the people of this community endure the pandemic.”
The episode erupted as police and prosecutors were already investigating possible criminal and civil violations stemming from an off-campus party at an apartment building in the same University Hill neighborhood that occurred over the previous weekend, according to ABC affiliate station KMGH-TV in Denver. A screen recording of a Snapchat video taken by someone at the party was shared on social media, showing dozens of people at the event with no social distancing going on or masks being worn, according to KMGH.
In October, the City of Boulder issued a mandatory two-week quarantine for four properties in the neighborhood, city officials told KMGH, adding most are associated with fraternities.
ABC News’ Jeffrey Cook contributed to this report.
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