Morgantown police disperse out-of-control crowd on Spruce Street

MORGANTOWN — Police officers dispersed a large crowd on Spruce Street.

According to scanner traffic, officers were forced to back away from the scene as beer bottles were thrown at them. The situation was described to The Dominion Post reporter Will Dean as “riot conditions.” The police also attempted to disperse the crowd with a siren, which Dean, who was on scene, tweeted “only excited the crowd, so they lit a fire.” He also reports that two smoke canisters were used.

Additional reporting from the scene indicates a mattress was set on fire.

Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said no students were arrested or touched.

A video of the scene was shared on Twitter and Instagram, showing officers who appear to be pointing paint guns into the crowd.

West Virginia University has been closed due to a combination of frigid temperatures and snow since Wednesday afternoon.

The university issued a statement, saying “It is unfortunate that what began today on Spruce Street as a playful time in the snow, turned into a dangerous and threatening situation for students and law enforcement officers alike. The escalation apparently began when the several hundred students and others who had gathered refused reasonable instructions to disperse and began tossing glass bottles and other debris toward officers, resulting in law enforcement taking action. University officials will review videos of the situation to determine if any charges should be filed. We remind our students that our actions should represent our  Mountaineer values. Behave responsibly, be accountable and please comply with police, who want to keep our campus, city and all of our first responders safe through this weather.”

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