The university and the city’s police department are investigating after hundreds of maskless students showed up to a mid-pandemic rager-turned-riot in the city’s University Hill neighborhood on Saturday night, injuring three SWAT responders and damaging city and private property, authorities said Sunday.
Video showed one student’s car, its windows already shattered, being overturned by a throng of partygoers.
“Any student who is found responsible for engagement in acts of violence or other egregious acts connected to the events—including damage to property and not dispersing when ordered by police—will face serious sanctions up to expulsion from CU Boulder without the possibility of readmission, and may also face criminal and civil sanctions from the city and the county,” university chancellor Phillip DiStefano wrote in a statement Sunday.
No arrests were made on the scene, police chief Maris Herold said Sunday, but tear gas was deployed. At the height of the incident, between 7 and 8 p.m. local time, Herold estimated there were between 500 to 800 attendees.
TikTok video shows attendees shooting fireworks into the night sky. Amid the mayhem, students recieved an email from the university's alert system instructing them to “RUN HIDE FIGHT,” a message the university later said was an accident.
“Glass is absolutely everywhere in the street,” Marc Sallinger, a reporter for local NBC affiliate 9News, wrote on Twitter. “Cars are running over empty vodka bottles and shattering them.”
And several students, spurning Colorado's recently-renewed mask mandate, packed together closely. "This feels good. Boulder’s back, baby!" one can be heard saying in the background of a viral video surveying the throng.
One SWAT officer was hit in the face with a “blunt object,” Herold said, saved from serious injury because he was wearing a gas mask. All three officers are “in good condition,” he added. Someone was also arrested dancing on an Amazon truck earlier in the day, Herold noted.
The police department planned to release a full timeline of events later on Sunday, according to city spokesperson Sarah Huntley.
“Certainly it seems to have started out as a party. But I don’t consider flipping over cars… a party,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said Sunday.
In-person classes are currently taking place at the University of Colorado, and will continue to even after Sunday’s events, officials said. However, students who attended the party should quarantine for two weeks, DiStefano wrote Sunday.
On that note, scientists have called for tear gas, a chemical weapon banned by the Geneva Convention, to be banned from use during the pandemic, owing to its risk in increasing spread and severity of the coronavirus.