MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Last weekend’s riots in Morgantown following WVU’s upset of Baylor turned into an expensive proposition for taxpayers. The city estimates expenses of over $45,000 to cover damages, overtime and equipment to handle any future riots.
An estimated 5,000 rioters, mostly WVU students, blocked streets, started fires, damaged property and threw objects at police and firemen last Saturday night and Sunday morning. Approximately 50 responders from the Morgantown Police Department, West Virginia State Police, the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department and University Police Department were called in to handle the crowds, according to Morgantown City Manager Jeff Mikorski.
“We are incredibly thankful that no one from these agencies was seriously injuried by the rioters, some of whom threw objects including softball-sized rocks and rolling flaming dumpsters downhill at first responders,” Mikorski said in prepared released.
The city estimated repair costs of nearly $15,000 for damaged property. Meanwhile, the city has also ordered over $30,000 worth of equipment and supplies, including helmets, gas masks, riot shields and pepper spray, to handle any future riots.
“I think the direction and leadership the University is taking by working with students, alumni and parents is needed,” Mikorski said, “but the police and fire departments need to be prepared and plan for any situation that may occur.”
The University has expelled three students for participating in the riots and disciplining others for their involvement. WVU President E. Gordon Gee has said he expects more expulsions.
Here is the entire release from Mikorski:
MORGANTOWN – City Administration would like to extend its gratitude to our police, fire and Public Works staff for their valor in the face of overwhelming odds – roughly 50 responders against a group 5,000 rioters Saturday night – as well as West Virginia State Police, the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Dept. and university police officers, who helped us throughout the riots.
We are incredibly thankful that no one from these agencies was seriously injured by rioters, some of whom threw objects including softball-sized rocks and rolled flaming dumpsters downhill at first responders.
“I am proud of our police officers, fire fighters and Public Works employees, and on the way they responded in a professional manner throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning that eliminated serious injuries,” said city manager Jeff Mikorski.
After damages caused by the riots were assessed from all City departments, Public Works reports that it cost $1,792.03 to repair damaged street lights and $600 to replace two light posts and bases that were torn down by members of the crowd. Additionally, $718.44 went to replacing or reinstalling street and traffic signs that rioters removed, bringing a total cost of $7,478.83 in repairs, including labor and overtime, supplies and required equipment.
The Fire Dept. reported a cost of $3,686.54 to replace its damaged items and pay for overtime. Other damaged items that were not included in that total include an engine and a vehicle that were both hit with rocks or bottles, totaling $2,500 in needed repairs, and a vehicle that was exposed to tear gas in need of $100 in repairs. The department has also requested $2,211.15 in items needed for personal protection, including helmets and gas masks.
The Morgantown Police Dept. ordered equipment and supplies officers would need to better control a crowd or riot in the future. The inventory, which totals $28,209.13, includes riots shields, smoke rounds, pepper spray cans and pepper balls, gas masks and equipment needed to release pepper balls into a crowd.
Morgantown Police also totaled $3,716.64 in overtime resulting from the weekend events.
“I think the direction and leadership the University is taking by working with students, alumni and parents is needed, but the Police and Fire Departments need to prepare and plan for any situation that may occur,” Mikorski said.