'State of emergency'
Spartan fans riot following Final Four loss to Duke
Posted: Sunday March 28, 1999 01:25 AM
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- A riotous crowd of about 5,000 people gathered around an apartment complex close to the Michigan State campus shortly after the Spartans lost to Duke on Saturday in basketball's Final Four.
East Lansing Fire Marshal Bob Pratt said he heard reports of several fires, mostly bonfires, and one overturned, burned car.
"They've been mostly smaller fires. We've taken 30 calls and we're prioritizing them right now," he said shortly after midnight.
Campus police Capt. Tony Kliebecker said the department sent its riot unit in to quell the crowd that had gathered around the Cedar Village apartment complex. He said police sprayed tear gas to try to disperse the crowd so firefighters could get to a car that had been overturned and set on fire.
Pratt said firefighters were pulling back at Cedar Village because they were being pelted with debris.
Kliebecker said he's heard of at least two arrests made by campus police.
"Right now, we're just trying to move crowds. We can't keep up with it," he said.
When asked if there were any problems, an East Lansing police dispatcher said: "Major problems. We're under a state of emergency right now. That's all we know."
There were reports of at least two students injured. One was climbing up a traffic light pole and he fell. WXYZ-TV reported that another student was injured when he was burned while jumping over a burning sofa.
Kelli Benson, 20, sophomore, said police were making the situation worse.
"We would eventually calm down if they didn't provoke us. Before we even did anything, there were cop cars everywhere," said Benson.
About 20 Ingham County sheriff deputies on horseback were on the scene.
Police closed Grand River Avenue, the main street in East Lansing.
Officers from the Ingham, Eaton and Clinton county sheriff's departments, the Michigan State Police, and the Lansing and Meridian Township police departments had been placed on call in case of problems.
Michigan State students have clashed with police before.
A student protest in May over an alcohol ban at a popular tailgating spot on campus turned into a melee. Up to 3,000 people were involved and more than 20 people were arrested. Students tore through downtown East Lansing, setting bonfires and clashing with police who used tear gas to break up the crowd.
Last weekend, two students were arrested for disorderly conduct at an off-campus apartment complex after Sunday's Michigan State victory over Kentucky. Revelers also set a small bonfire at the complex with pizza boxes and furniture.Police in nearby Lansing and about an hour away in Flint, where several Michigan State players are from, said they had no reports of problems.
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