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Police: State College Patrols to Increase Thursday; Riotous Actions Not Tolerated

on November 10, 2011 4:14 PM

State College police will increase patrols Thursday night after the damaging riot that rattled the downtown overnight Wednesday, police Capt. John Gardner said.

In a news briefing about 2:45 p.m., he encouraged people to "stay off the streets" and be at home Thursday night.

"The behavior of last night is not going to be tolerated," Gardner said, underscoring that state police will assist borough officers. He did not disclose the number of officers who will be on duty.

"Each time they up the ante, we're going to up the ante, too," Gardner said of any unruly mobs. " ... Wanton destruction of property is not acceptable."

Shortly after Penn State trustees announced the firing of football Coach Joe Paterno, a crowd estimated at 4,000 to 5,000 people converged on downtown State College about 10 p.m. Wednesday, according to a police statement.

Police said the group quickly turned from a peaceful demonstration -- a demonstration against Paterno's dismissal -- to a "riotous mob." Much of it was centered on East Beaver Avenue between Garner and Pugh streets, though problems were reported on College Avenue and the Old Main lawn, as well.

Most people at the scenes did not cause any damage and behaved well, but violent elements damaged vehicles, rolled over a news van, tried to set cars on fire and tore down light posts and street signs, Gardner said.

Some also threw rocks, bottles and other hard objects, hitting a number of police officers and other people, according to a news release. A number of injuries were reported.

Property was damaged, as well, though an overall value estimate for that damage has not been established, Gardner said. He called it among the worst disturbances he has witnessed.

Gardner declined to discuss whether Penn State had given the borough police any advance warning of the impending Paterno-dismissal announcement late Wednesday.

Eventually that night, police issued numerous dispersal orders to the downtown hoardes. A dispersal bulletin also was distributed via the Penn State emergency text-messaging system.

But police still "had to (use) controlled pepper-spray deployment to begin dispersing the riotous mob after injuries and property damage became unmanageable," the news release reads.

Gardner said the area was back under control at 1:45 a.m. Thursday.

Police have identified more than a dozen suspects who will face arrest in connection with the riot, Gardner said. Charges filed against them are expected to include rioting, attempted arson, failure to disperse, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

Meanwhile, police are still reviewing video footage "in an attempt to identify suspects in other criminal acts," the news release notes.

Police are asking the general public to help identify suspects from photos and video footage captured at the riot. A repository of those videos and photos will be established in this section of the police website, Gardner said.

He emphasized that Centre County Crimestoppers pays rewards of as much as $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest or arrests. Crimestoppers can be reached at (877) 992-7436 and online at its website.

A complete compilation of StateCollege.com's related coverage -- including video from the riot -- is available via the link below.

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