UPDATE: Police continue to investigate Morgantown riot

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UPDATE 2/1/19 (9:54 p.m.):

According to the Morgantown Police Department, officers responded to assist the WVU Police Department with a public disturbance Friday afternoon on North Spruce Street in Morgantown.

A large crowd was openly consuming alcohol and sledding down the roadway, blocking the street, according to the Morgantown Police Department.

The City of Morgantown Public Works Department couldn’t plow the snow or clean the streets for traffic in the area. The Morgantown Police Department responded to escort the snow plows and clear the street of pedestrians. As officers were attempting to clear the streets, a crowd of people began to throw bottles and rocks at officers and Public Works crews, according the Morgantown Police Department.

According to police, officers took cover behind a snow plow and began to fire pepper-ball munitions in the direction from where the bottles were being thrown. Officers then deployed a device that generates a loud noise in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Afterward, the crowd set a fire in the middle of the street, police said.

After the device sounded for about five minutes, more than half of the crowd dispersed.  The remaining people were confrontational and threw more objects at officers and added more items to the street fire, according to police.  Officers said they were then given permission to throw two smoke grenades into the street, which were not aimed at the crowd. After the rounds were used, the crowd quickly dispersed with no further instructions given, police said.

No officers or workers were injured during the incident.

During the disturbance, deputies from the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office, every on duty unit for the Morgantown Police Department and the West Virginia University Police Department responded.

Morgantown Police declared the incident a riot at 3:50 p.m.  Officers and Public Works crews cleared the scene at about 5 p.m.

No one is currently charged in the incident since officers didn’t engage in any physical contact with anyone involved.  However, the Morgantown Police Department said it will review surveillance video and body camera footage, as well as social media posts, to determine whether or not to file charges.


ORIGINAL 2/1/19 (4:29 p.m.):

Multiple law enforcement agencies are currently handling a public disturbance in Morgantown involving a large crowd of people on Spruce Street.

This disturbance, believed to mostly involve West Virginia University students, started shortly after noon on Friday.  As of 4:30 p.m., the confrontation is still ongoing.

The WVU Police Department has told 12 News that it will not release any information until Monday.

West Virginia University Released the following statement about the incident:

“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.”

Stay with 12 News for the latest updates.

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