35 arrested after UConn celebration turns violent
No serious injuries were reported, although several ambulances were called from surrounding towns to transport injured students
By Christine Dempsey, David Owens and Nick Rondinone
The Hartford Courant
STORRS, Conn. — About three dozen UConn revelers were arrested and parts of the campus were vandalized after the men's national championship victory late Monday.
No serious injuries were reported, although several ambulances were called from surrounding towns to transport injured students, including a student struck in the head with a bottle.
Some people lit small fires, a light pole went through a window at the Information Technologies Engineering (ITE) Building and a car was flipped near the Hilltop dorms, UConn spokesmen said.
"We've logged multiple reports of property damage around campus: so far, most of the damage appears to be minor..." UConn spokesman Tom Breen wrote in a 1:30 a.m. email.
A stop sign was ripped out of the ground and there was damage to the Student Union, the field house and other buildings as well.
By 9 a.m., 35 people had been charged with crimes, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said. Of those, 20 are UConn students. Police had arrested 30 people by 1:30 a.m.
More arrests are possible, she said.
The charges are mostly for minor offenses such as breach of peace, interfering with police, and vandalism-related charges, Reitz said. Other charges included possession of alcohol by a minor and criminal trespass.
At least one student was charged with inciting a riot, Breen said.
Most students behaved themselves, Police Chief Barbara O'Connor said in a written statement.
"By far, most of our students have conducted themselves safely and responsibly," she said. "Although there have been some arrests and property damage, we're pleased overall with most of our students' behavior, especially considering we had a capacity crowd of over 10,000 in Gampel Pavilion and thousands more elsewhere on campus."
Police will closely examine security footage to help them identify offenders, who will be "held accountable, to the fullest extent of the law," O'Connor said.
The celebrations reached a fever pitch at 11:18 p.m., the moment the University of Connecticut men won their fourth national championship. A packed Gampel Pavilion exploded with cheers.
"This is unreal," one fan yelled at the top of his lungs outside. "We're no. 1!"
A capacity crowd had packed into the Huskies' home venue to watch the men beat the Kentucky Wildcats, 60-54. When the doors opened earlier, the crowd quickly filled the arena and hundreds were left outside.
Some students lined up outside Gampel as early as 2 p.m. to make sure they got seats.
Outside Gampel, students and others chanted and celebrated the win.
Inside Gampel during the game, the crowd was energetic and loud. UConn's cheerleaders were revving up the crowd, a DJ was playing music and balloons were bouncing around.
Once the Huskies took the floor at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the crowd roared. The cheering reached a crescendo each time UConn scored.
Outside, police were investigating an accident involving a car and a pedestrian. A 19-year-old woman was taken to Windham Hospital in Willimantic, police said her injuries did not appear to be serious.
With just three minutes to go in the game, and UConn still ahead, dozens of fans ran onto the Gampel floor to get a closer view of the screen on which the game was projected.
When the clock reached zero, euphoria swept through the crowd. There was screaming. There was cheering. There were smiles.
"To end up there, it's pretty unexpected and it's amazing," UConn senior Jack Dougherty said.
As the crowd moved slowly out of Gampel and onto Fairfield Way, fireworks shot into the air.
Despite the cold and rain, the crowd was sticking around to celebrate a win few dreamed possible. Some people climbed trees to get a better view of the revelry.
UConn senior Brian Luther pointed out that the UConn men won the national championship when he and his classmates were freshman.
"As seniors, to go out with a win, it's 100 percent better," he said.
Gampel Arena will open again Tuesday night so students may watch the UConn women compete for the NCAA championship title.
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