For the fourth time in four years, a party near Colorado State University campus turned from a carefree college party to a riot situation, which could lead to felony charges for those involved.
Fort Collins police estimate 300 to 400 people were at the riot Saturday. Body camera footage was captured and will be instrumental in identifying and charging offenders, according to Fort Collins Police Officer Matt Johnson.
Body camera footage can be viewed by the subject of the video upon request.
Police received a noise complaint around 10:50 p.m. Saturday night regarding a party in a cul-de-sac on the 700 block of Blevins Court, south of the Colorado State University campus.
A similar riot situation happened six months ago on April 12, only two blocks away from the Saturday party.
Police are still uncertain which house the party was associated with, but think multiple houses may have been involved, according to Johnson.
Johnson said a squad car of officers attempted to make contact with the crowd, but bottles and rocks were thrown at the car. At this point the police backed away, set up a parameter and called in backup from Larimer County Police Department and Colorado State University Police Department.
Rioting behavior like throwing bottles, destruction of property and disorderly conduct prompted police to prepare by dressing in riot gear, but Johnson said the crowd dissipated before any proactive measures, like tear gas, had to be used.
Johnson said the police’s plan against rioting in the future is one of maintenance, not outright eradication.
“We are never going to solve the problem in the sense we will never have another issue,” Johnson said. “Any community that has a college campus with a large contingency of young people will have these types of problems. However, we have a proactive recipe of education and enforcement to deal with the issue before it becomes significant.”
Johnson also said Colorado Sate University has been a strong partner in preventing these sort of incidents.
Jody Donovan, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said the University is conducting its own investigation.
She said if a student is found to have incited a riot, state law requires the University to suspend the student for a full year and that student is prohibited from attending any other state-funded university in Colorado for a year. Legal repercussions for the same infraction can range from a Class One Misdemeanor to a Class Five Felony depending on if damage was done.
“I worry about the long term implications of this kind of behavior when the majority of the students are doing great things,” Donovan said. “Good things get overlooked when a small group of students, or members of the community, attract this kind of negative attention.”
Rachel Russel, a sophomore studying human development and family sciences, was at the party and said police involvement escalated the situation.
“It was never at any point out of hand until the cops showed up,” Russel said. “When I first got there, it was just hundreds of students and they were just hanging out.”
However, Russel said as tension developed between police and party goers, the police handled the situation properly.
“I think the quality of enforcement was good for how disrespectful the students were being,” she said. “I guarantee the people who are caught are screwed. I can’t imagine throwing your entire life away for one night of fun.”
Fort Collins Police Department and University investigations are underway and Donovan said they will work closely with the police and use police body camera footage to identify suspects who she hopes are not CSU students.
“It’s important to say this was not a University event,” Donovan said. “It happened off campus and we have 31,000 students. We don’t even know if the participants were students at this point … People will talk and we are keeping our ears open.”
Collegian City Beat Reporter Danny Bishop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @DannyDBishop.