Morgantown Police Department charging 11 people in February riot incident

Crime

The Morgantown Police Department is charging nearly a dozen people after a riot last month.

At approximately 2:57 p.m. on February 1, officers responded to a request for assistance from West Virginia University Police on North Spruce Street, in the “Cooperative Zone” near the campus of West Virginia University, according to a press release.

Police said a large crowd had gathered and was drinking alcohol openly, sledding, snowboarding and blocking the roadway.  University officials ordered the crowd to move from the street so the roadway could be treated.

The City of Morgantown Public Works Department could not run the snow plows or treat the streets in the area commonly referred to as “frat hill.”  Officers tried to escort the plow down the street in order to clear the street of pedestrians.  While crews attempted to plow the street, members of the crowd and people who congregated on porches began throwing beer bottles, liquor bottles, rocks and other
projectiles at the officers and the public works crews, according to a press release.

After reviewing body camera footage, statements and surveillance video of the incident, the Morgantown Police Department, with help from the WVU Police Department, identified primary offenders in the incident, according to a press release.

The following people are facing charges in the incident, though not all have been arrested:

  • Bauer Cipressi, 21, of Huntington, Maryland, is charged with open container and disorderly conduct
  • Chad Harper, of Brecksville, Ohio, is charged with open container and disorderly conduct
  • Darius McKenzie, 20, of Voorhees, New Jersey, is charged with malicious burning and disorderly conduct
  • Dew Spearko, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is charged with open container and disorderly conduct
  • Garret Wright, of Morgantown, is charged with malicious burning and disorderly conduct
  • Joseph Boggs, 26, of Caldwell, West Virginia, is charged with open container
  • John Kleissas, of Wye Mills, Maryland, is charged with disorderly conduct
  • Kyle Canavan, of Chesapeake, Virginia, is charged with open container and disorderly conduct
  • Samuel Cole, of Springfield, Virginia, is charged with disorderly conduct
  • Tyler Kiskis, of Pasadena, Maryland, is charged with open container and disorderly conduct
  • William Pierson, of Charleston, West Virginia, is charged with throwing missiles and disorderly conduct

Additional people will be charged upon confirmation of their identities, according to police.

Each of the people facing charges is currently registered as a WVU student, except for Boggs, according to April Kaull with University Relations.

Kaull issued the following statement on the incident:

It is unfortunate that the behavior on Spruce Street a month ago has resulted in these charges but interfering with law enforcement officers cannot be taken lightly. 

Sadly, what began as a snow carnival became dangerous, requiring officers to step in. The order to disperse was met with objects being thrown, endangering both officers and individuals, which led to Morgantown Police using pepper balls and smoke grenades.

The students involved may also face discipline under the Student Conduct Code once the criminal charges are resolved.

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