Rioting follows homecoming loss; dozens arrested

Updated: October 5, 2003, 8:27 PM ET

MANKATO, Minn. -- Police arrested dozens of students during an alcohol-fueled riot in the streets following a homecoming football game loss at Minnesota State, Mankato.

As many as 3,000 people were in a crowd that gathered Saturday night in a largely student residential area, some setting fire to trash bins, tearing down fences, smashing car windows and throwing rocks and bricks at officers, police said.

Two officers retreated after reaching the scene and waited for backup.

"When police backed off, the students were so excited because they thought they had defeated the cops," said Brian Boothe, a senior.

Police in riot gear then used eye and skin irritants to disperse the crowd, and arrested 45 people. Four officers were injured by objects thrown at them, said Jim Franklin, the city's public safety director.

The area became so dangerous that it took an armored vehicle to pick up a student who reportedly wasn't breathing, Franklin said. Police also received reports of students being assaulted by fellow students. About a dozen people were treated for injuries at a nearby hospital.

Franklin blamed alcohol for the problems.

Witnesses said the riot started when about 400 students at a party after the game became violent and started throwing empty beer bottles at around 11:30 p.m. As the crowd grew, students damaged vehicles and filled the street.

About 160 police officers were called in before the crowd was finally dispersed about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Franklin said.

Mankato lost the homecoming game 20-9 to North Dakota State. The team is winless six games into the season.

"It was the scariest feeling in the world," said Bob Idding, who lives nearby. "I shouldn't have been there, I know that. My wife and I were telling each other, 'This isn't Mankato, Minnesota. We have police in riot gear in the streets."

The university's president, Richard Davenport, said students identified in videotapes that were taken at the scene would face disciplinary action.

"I found the events of last night deeply disturbing," he said. "To the extent that our students were involved with others, we are extremely disappointed."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index