BOULDER — Violence and destruction broke out as officers worked to break up a party involving hundreds of people near the University of Colorado Boulder on Saturday, police said.
Three officers suffered minor injuries from being struck by bricks and rocks, Boulder police told news outlets. The department brought in its SWAT team to help clear the flood of people along a street in an area known as University Hill.
Images shared by local media showed no social distancing and most without masks despite the coronavirus pandemic. An estimated 800 to 1,000 people were there. A few in the raucous crowd damaged and flipped over a vehicle. Others set off fireworks in the middle of the street. A law enforcement armored vehicle and a fire truck were damaged.
“There is no excuse for this conduct,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a statement. He called their behavior during the pandemic “shameful” and vowed to aggressively prosecute those who acted criminally.
Dougherty said he would be working closely with police to investigate the event. He strongly encouraged people involved to turn themselves in.
“Let me be clear: The damaging of private property — other people’s vehicles and property — as well as the assault upon police officers and first responders is unacceptable,” he said.
Police said in a statement, “the Boulder Department is reviewing all body worn camera footage and shared social media videos/photos to identify the individuals involved in damaging property and assaulting first responders.”
A SWAT vehicle suffered several thousand dollars in damage.
The university also addressed the incident in a statement saying it would not tolerate any students “engaging in acts of violence or damaging property.”
CU Boulder students returned to campus for hybrid and in-person learning in mid-February. The party isn’t expected to change those plans.
“Any student who is found responsible for having engaged in acts of violence toward the law enforcement or other first responders will be removed from CU Boulder and not readmitted,” the statement said.
Police said in a tweet after shortly after 9 p.m. that the scene had been cleared. No arrests were immediately announced.
Patrick O’Rourke, chief operating office for CU Boulder, said students who attended the party should immediately quarantine and then get a coronavirus test on Thursday or Friday.
“Students will not be punished for completing your monitoring test,” he said during a news conference on Sunday.
Jeff Zayach, who leads Boulder County Public Heath, said the fact the party happened the day after Gov. Jared Polis held a vigil for the roughly 6,000 people who have died from COVID-19 was especially upsetting.
“The disregard of mask-wearing, disregard of social distancing and disregard on the limits of personal social gatherings clearly … was in violation of the orders from the state,” he said.
After the party broke up, other students came to the scene with garbage bags to pick up the large amounts of trash left behind.