Snow Day at WVU Turns Into Violent 'Riot'

Police say crowd of hundreds attacked cops, city workers trying to clear snow
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2019 9:00 AM CST
It Began as a 'Playful Time in the Snow.' Then, a 'Riot'
Cops say the snow day at WVU turned into a "riot."   (Getty Images/yevtony)

A snow day for West Virginia University went bad after police say a crowd of hundreds attacked city workers trying to clear the streets of snow, as well as the cops who then came to break things up. Per CBS News, WVU officials say a large group gathered outside in Morgantown Friday after classes were canceled due to the perilously low temperatures and snow; Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston tells the Daily Athenaeum, the student newspaper, there were between 750 and 900 people. Police say members in the crowd were in the streets drinking alcohol, sledding, and snowboarding, preventing city workers from getting rid of the snow, and when cops started arriving around 3pm to get the crowd to move, things took a worse turn, per CBS Pittsburgh.

That's when people started throwing glass bottles, rocks, and other objects, forcing police to take cover behind a snowplow, cops say; someone also reportedly set a fire. By 3:50pm, police declared the incident a riot. Police say they were forced to deploy pepper balls, hurl smoke grenades, and also use what's called a "Long-Range Acoustic Device," basically a loudspeaker that can put out a "steady annoying noise" in one direction, per CBS News. "It is unfortunate that what began today ... as a playful time in the snow, turned into a dangerous and threatening situation for students and law enforcement officers alike," the university said in a statement. The scene was said to be cleared by around 5pm. No officers or city workers were injured; one person in the crowd reportedly suffered a minor "contusion." No arrests so far, though that may change as video of the incident is reviewed, per university officials. (More West Virginia University stories.)

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