Men's NCAA Tourney 2002 Men's NCAA Tourney 2002


Imagine if they win?

Police, rain quell riots on Maryland campus

Posted: Sunday March 31, 2002 12:14 AM
Updated: Sunday March 31, 2002 11:38 AM
  Maryland fan After beating up on Kansas, Maryland fans beat up on street signs. AP

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Police in riot gear and riding horseback fired pellets into a crowd of hundreds of celebrating Maryland fans early Sunday, hours after the Terrapins advanced to the national championship game.

Officers used guns with red laser scopes to fire the rounds whenever someone from the crowd threw a bottle in their direction. Several revelers were hit with the pellets, which contained a powdered form of pepper spray.

"If people begin hurling bottles and other items at us, we have to begin pushing them back," Prince George's County Police Chief Gerald Wilson said.

About 10 people broke into a police car and stole flares that they later lighted and threw at officers. Other fans ripped up street signs and paraded them around an intersection on Route 1 near the campus.

A trash can was set on fire in front of a row of stores and people began throwing bottles and wooden benches on two police cars. Some store windows were smashed, including the Maryland Book Exchange, an off-campus book store.

Two unidentified people suspected of trying to break into the book exchange were arrested, Wilson said. He also said the department would ask the university to pay for the damaged cruisers because a large part of the crowd consisted of Maryland students.

Officers closed a two-block section near the university after hundreds of cheering fans poured onto the street following the game. Police on horseback moved in around midnight to try to disperse the crowd, and several horses knocked down some fans.

Heavy rain about 1 a.m. forced many people to leave the scene, and police had the area empty about an hour later.

On campus, about 500 spectators at Cole Field House watched a televised feed of Maryland's 97-88 win over Kansas. They rushed the court in the game's final seconds.

Wilson said he hoped the university would set up a place where students and fans could celebrate if the Terrapins beat Indiana in Monday night's national championship game.

With most of the student body expected back on campus after spring break, university police will enlist state police and local officers Monday to quell any violence.

Last year, several homes were broken into and furniture was dragged into the street to fuel bonfires after Maryland's loss to Duke in the Final Four. One fire caused about $500,000 in damage and disrupted cable service when it burned through a fiber optic line.

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