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Arrests made, fires put out following WVU win, police say

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- About 15 people were arrested and 29 fires were intentionally set as fans celebrated the West Virginia University football team's win against the University of Texas Saturday evening, according to police.

An "unruly" crowd of about 1,000 people took to the streets in the Sunnyside area of Morgantown after the game, according to a news release from the Morgantown Police Department.

Approximately 50 police officers from various agencies wore protective helmets, gas masks, and body armor and carried crowd-control batons as they tried to control the crowd, police say. People pelted the officers with bottles, rocks and other objects, according to police.

Police officers used pepper spray and CS gas against the groups, who were setting fires, fighting and trying to overturn vehicles, police say.

Several officers suffered minor injuries as they dispersed the crowd, according to police. None of the injuries required medical treatment.

Of the 15 people arrested, 10 were charged with offenses ranging from battery on an officer, escape, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest/obstructing an officer and battery. Five people were charged with arson-related offenses.

According to the Morgantown Fire Department, those charged with malicious burning include: Andrew Thompson of Centerville, VA; David Joseph Costa of Germantown, MD; Robert F. Comorosky of Loveland, OH; Alexander Zuo; Malverin, PA and Brett Zachary Stevens of Highland, MD. Thompson, Costa, Comorosky and Stevens are WVU students and will be subject to student disciplinary actions, a school spokesman said.

Police also issued criminal citations for alcohol-related offices.

The Morgantown Police Department was assisted by officials from the WVU Police Department, the Monongalia County Sheriff's Department, the West Virginia State Police, the Granville Police Department, the Westover Police Department, the Morgantown Fire Department and the Morgantown Street Department.

In light of the events Saturday and previous incidents, Morgantown Mayor Jim Manilla said he's thought about asking WVU to impose a fee for students that would go towards the city's public safety. City council has not proposed asking for the fee, he added.

"It's an idea, and it's my idea," he said. "...It's a thought I've been talking about."

Manilla said he would want to take the idea to the school's student government association.

"If they would go on board, we want them to know where the money would go," he said. "It would be put to good use, every penny of it."

He added that besides paying for police officers and fire fighters, the money could help the city's streets budget.

Manilla said he realizes that it's not only students that cause trouble after games. People come from out of town to watch the games and celebrate the wins, he said.

The mayor said he was frustrated by the recent incidents. Despite from the school's SGA and others to encourage students not to start fires after games, the incidents keep happening.

"Maybe this will get the students upset about [a fee]," Manilla said. "It's a small percentage [of students who cause trouble]. We sure would like any tips of people seeing anything."

Ken Gray, WVU vice president of student affairs, said in a prepared statement Sunday it was unfortunate that despite coordinated efforts by the school, students, law enforcement and city officials, a few people still celebrate wins inappropriately.

"The behavior of some reacting to the Mountaineers' victory Saturday night is unacceptable and detracts from the team's achievements," Gray said. "Otherwise on campus, it was a successful Fall Family Weekend where thousands of parents and friends enjoyed the beautiful weekend, with many of them packing the Mountainlair to witness the victory over the Longhorns.

"WVU will continue to cooperate with Morgantown, Monongalia County and state law enforcement authorities in every way possible. University officials will also review videotapes and any student who is identified breaking the law will be subject to the full range of civil and school penalties, up to and including expulsion. Students among those charged by civil authorities will also face school penalties, which again can include expulsion.

"We will continue to seek ways to stop this kind of behavior through education, communication and cooperation."

Officials will meet this week to discuss response options to future problems.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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