WVU students head to streets, burn couches in reaction to Bin Laden’s death
Published: Monday, May 2, 2011
Updated: Monday, May 2, 2011 03:05
Hundreds of students watched as a couch erupted in flames at the intersection of High and Willey Streets Sunday night, marking the death of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.
Chants of "America, F--k Yeah," "God Bless America," "Eat S--t Pitt" and "Let's Go ... Mountaineers" roared across the crowded streets, as West Virginia University students stood on ledges and church steps with cell phones and American flags in-hand.
President Barack Obama told the nation of the Al Qaida leader's demise in a late-night press conference Sunday.
"Justice has been done," Obama announced. "Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaida."
The President announced he had authorized a mission earlier Sunday to kill the terrorist leader in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after months of intelligence gathering.
The announcement was held until DNA results confirmed the identity of the terrorist leader.
Students took to the streets shortly after the news broke, with reports of fireworks and couch fires via Twitter.
Sgt. Chad Barker of the WVU Police Department said there had been "quite a few complaints" around campus of celebrations, mostly around Towers.
Mel Moraes, senior public relations major, said she first noticed crowds gathering while driving through Sunnyside for dinner.
"We drove down Grant Street, just minding our own business, and saw on Third Street there was a big fire," she said. "A lot of people from Summit Hall and Honors were walking to look at it. Everyone had out their phone and cameras out taking photos of it."
Alex Joneoc, sophomore criminology major, was in Sunnyside Sunday night despite a 10 a.m. final.
"I'm out here because the jacka-- is dead," Joneoc said. "My uncle was in the Pentagon (on 9/11) and almost got hit, so this for him."
Tyler Steele, senior electrical engineering major, said it was "thrilling" to see the United States kill Bin Laden.
"I remember the exact feeling from when September 11th happened," he said. "I remember how scared I was. I was terrified of what happened."
One students also had a personal connection to the news.
Cpl. Kevin Lay, sophomore management and information systems major, has served two tours in Iraq and Africa as a Marine.
His motivation for joining the Marine Corps was to fight in the war on terror.
"It's closing a chapter in my life," he said. "We got Saddam (Hussein), then this happened."
West Virginia leaders issued statements about the news.
"Osama Bin Laden's death is a historic and just victory for this nation," Sen. Joe Manchin said. "I congratulate the President and salute the brave men and women in our armed services and the intelligence community for their courage, persistence and dedication in carrying out this mission."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller issued a statement reasserting the country's commitment to the war on terror.
"The effort continues, and we remain committed to fighting terrorism in any form," Rockefeller said. "We should be grateful to the extraordinary troops and intelligence professionals who have pursued Bin Laden and everyone else who would do us harm."
Erin Fitzwilliams contributed to this report.