Maryland students riot after winPosted: Tuesday April 02, 2002 12:37 AM
Updated: Tuesday April 02, 2002 2:49 AM
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Students lit bonfires, threw bottles, climbed onto business roofs and shot off fireworks after Maryland beat Indiana in the NCAA championship game.
One reveler was tackled by an ice cream shop employee after trying to ram a police barricade through the shop's window. Another student was badly cut after getting hit in the head with a bottle.
Bonfires grew in several areas as items were tossed onto the blazes by students milling about.
Police were deployed in force Monday night, hoping to avoid a repeat of the violence that followed Maryland's semifinal victory over Kansas on Saturday night. Police promised to 'aggressively arrest' people who refused to disperse.
"This is terrible. We've finally started to lose the reputation as the Len Bias death school, and now we're known as the riot school," said student Josh Fingold, 21, referring to the 1986 cocaine overdose death of the Maryland basketball star.
At one bonfire, police moved in on horseback, circling the blaze to make room for police on foot and a fire truck that extinguished the blaze.
Nearby, a student threw a board at officers, who responded by firing pepper spray pellets.On a side street, rioters smashed the window of a bicycle store. Some rode off, while others carried off bicycles for about 15 minutes before police arrived and sealed off the store. Others in the crowd then started grabbing bikes from looters and returned some to the store.
Authorities said they planned to clamp down on the bonfires, which did significant damage last year after Maryland lost to Duke in the Final Four, said university police spokeswoman Maj. Cathy Atwell. One fire caused an estimated $500,000 in damage and disrupted cable service when it burned through a fiber optic line.
With students back from spring break Monday, officials feared post-game celebrations could be even wilder than Saturday, when police in riot gear squared off against a crowd of about 2,000.
Fans also threw beer bottles, ripped down street signs, broke store windows and trashed two police cruisers during the three-hour melee that spilled into early Sunday morning. Police, who drove students from the streets around 1 a.m. using pepper spray, arrested two people.
Hundreds of red-clad fans filled the seats at Cole Field House on Monday for the last Maryland game seen at the historic arena, watching the game on a huge television screen. Cole is slated to be replaced next year by a larger building.
Fans mobbed the floor as it became clear in the last few minutes that Maryland was going to win, but the scene was joyous and not raucous.
In downtown College Park, city workers removed street signs Monday along with "anything that could be used as a missile," according to Joe Nagro, the city's deputy public works director.
School officials also planned to enforce a recent change in the university's code of conduct, which allows the school to discipline any students who are arrested off campus for misdemeanors.
Several students were arrested on misdemeanor charges after last year's Final Four incident, but the school's code of conduct only allowed punishment for felonies, said university spokesman George Cathcart.
"The university will take very seriously any actions by students that are illegal," Cathcart said.