WVU, City officials discuss fire plans
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 07:10
Officials from the city of Morgantown have teamed with West Virginia University to crack down on last weekend’s post-game behavior and take preventative measures for this weekend’s game against Texas Tech.
The Morgantown Fire Department confirmed 35 malicious street fires set late Saturday night and into early Sunday morning.
During the riots, debris was also pelted at police officers, firefighters, vehicles and bystanders.
According to the Morgantown Police Department, WVU students Andrew Thompson of Centerville, Va.; David Jospeh Costa of Germantown, Md.; Robert F. Comorosky of Loveland, Ohio; and Brett Zachary Stevens of Highland, Md., were charged with malicious burning.
This weekend, WVU students James Richard Zito of Glenelg, Md.; Kathryn Durko of Cokeburg, Pa.; Timothy Watkins of Westminster, Md.; and Alexandra Amato of Morgantown, were arrested for various charges, including obstructing an officer, battery of a police officer and underage possession or consumption of alcohol.
Dean of Students Corey Farris said University and City officials are working to proactively educate students on acceptable celebration behavior – particularly in the Sunnyside neighborhood.
"Within the next 24-48 hours, University and City Police are going to be traveling to hot spot areas and going door to door," he said. "Some of our Sunnyside landlords are going and talking to their tenants reminding them on their ‘no party’ clauses."
Farris said officials would also be traveling to both Summit and Honors Halls on Grant Avenue to educate on-campus students on ways to stay safe and celebrate responsibly.
Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said the police department is taking an aggressive stance in identifying individuals involved in last weekend’s mayhem and putting an end to the violent behavior.
"It’s clearly a safety issue, and it is also affecting our city’s and the University’s fine reputation, and we simply won’t tolerate it,"
For the first time, the Morgantown Police Department is turning to social media as a means to identify those involved in the events.
According to a recent release from the Morgantown Police Department, through efforts of law enforcement and the help of the public through tips, social media and news media, several individuals have been identified committing illegal acts during last week’s riots and will be charged accordingly.
Through archiving photos from students and local media platforms, Facebook and Twitter posts, YouTube videos and the city’s own surveillance, both the city and University are working to identify those involved.
According to Farris, the University and local police departments have received an overwhelming response from community, state and region.
"Earlier today, I called (those responsible) hooligans," he said. "They are. Those weren’t Mountaineer fans. True fans wouldn’t do this."
Farris said as student offenders continue to be identified, they will face both University and local court disciplinary measures.
On the University side, he said, students found responsible could face suspension or expulsion from the University.
"It is the hope of many that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent," he said. "This will all continue to take place, as long as we continue to identify people in photos."
Farris said as the University works to develop a long-term solution to the issue, he wants focus on the University to remain positive.
"WVU does have a whole lot to be proud of. There have been many great accomplishments, and students have gone on and done some great things," he said. "For the long-term, we need figure out how we channel all of the excitement that should be there in a positive way. Everything should be on the table."
For more information, or to aid police in identifying any individuals responsible, visit the Morgantown Police Department’s Facebook page, or call 304-284-7522.