Cops fire tear gas at unruly crowd near WMU

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo Public Safety officers fired tear gas into crowds partying near Western Michigan University Saturday after police say the crowds became unruly and started attacking each other and police.

Around 2 p.m., officers received several calls about large groups of people gathering, open consumption of alcohol and excessive noise in the area around Lafayette and Redwood avenues.

There were large crowds in the Lafayette/Knollwood Campus Court apartment area as students and others took part in a “House Crawl.”  The crowd grew to an estimated 2,000 people at one point.

Kalamazoo officers arrive to disperse an unruly crowd near WMU (Photo courtesy DenzelPalm; April 12, 2014).
Kalamazoo officers arrive to disperse an unruly crowd near WMU (Photo courtesy DenzelPalm; April 12, 2014).

Officers say the crowds were initially peaceful, but as the event went on, some became hostile toward each other and several fights broke out. 

As Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers and Western Michigan University police officers tried to control the crowd, people in the crowd started throwing bottles and rocks at the police officers. 

Several students told 24 Hour News 8 some people on the roofs of houses in the area were throwing items at the crowd.

Kalamazoo officers established a police zone and made several announcements to the crowd to clear the area.  A majority of the people in the crowd would not leave the area and hostile behavior toward the officers continued, police said.

Officers say they were forced to use tear gas to get the people in the crowd to leave the area.

Hundreds of students ran away from the area to escape the tear gas. One WMU student in the crowd told 24 Hour News 8 “My eyes were burning. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die.”

When the crowd cleared, the streets were littered with broken glass and cans, and some furniture was set on fire.

No injuries were reported during the crowd’s behavior or when tear gas was shot into the crowd.

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