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UMass students face charges for post-Super Bowl riot

  • Six University of Massachusetts students were arraigned Tuesday in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on charges stemming from a gathering in the Southwest Residential Area following Sunday’s Super Bowl. Top row, from left, are Marc A. Griffiths, Timothy B. Canning and Joseph D. Neylon. Bottom row, from left, are Jack H. McDermott, Michael P. Mahoney and Zachary B. Korff. A seventh student was arraigned Monday. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING



Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

BELCHERTOWN — Six University of Massachusetts students were arraigned Tuesday morning on charges related to a post-Super Bowl riot Sunday night in the Southwest Residential Area of campus. A seventh student was arraigned Monday.

“It was a difficult and a very disappointing night,” UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said. “In recent years we have not experienced this at all and when students have come out after Super Bowls and other events they had relatively brief celebrations and they had been fairly uneventful.”

Besides possible criminal penalties, the seven students arrested during the melee face university sanctions up to expulsion.

According to police reports, between 800 and 1,000 students gathered in the area outside the Berkshire Dining Commons around 10:15 p.m. after the New England Patriots’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Police deemed the crowd unsafe after observing students destroying property, fighting, lighting firecrackers and throwing bottles.

Michael P. Mahoney, 18, of Worcester, allegedly threw ice that struck an officer, and defied and taunted officers who were trying to clear the scene. He was charged with failing to disperse during a riot, disorderly conduct, and assault and battery on a police officer. He is represented by Joseph Bernard

Timothy B. Canning, 18, of Palmer, was charged with failure to disperse during a riot and disorderly conduct, after officers observed him yelling with arms raised at officers trying to quell the crowd. Canning requested a court-appointed attorney, but his family’s household income disqualified him as a recipient.

Marc A. Griffiths, 21, of West Brookfield, was charged with disorderly conduct after officers observed him picking up a road flare and throwing it towards officers, endangering their lives and “provoking others in area.”

Jack H. McDermott, 19, of Weymouth was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly throwing a bottle that narrowly missed police officers, creating a safety risk and provoking others in the area.

Joseph D. Neylon, 19, of Chelmsford, was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, after officers observed him attempting to fight several other students and dumping a garbage can on another’s head. He allegedly attempted to escape from a UMass officer placing him under arrest, struggled and caused both to fall on the ground.

In another incident, Zachary B. Korff, 20, of Quincy, was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly picking up a road flare and holding it “like he was carrying the Olympic Torch,” according to police reports. He opted to represent himself instead of hiring an attorney.

All parties pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges. Judge Maureen Walsh ordered them released on personal recognizance. Their next court appearance is scheduled for March 22.

One student, Jordan E. Ortiz, 22, of Marshfield, was arraigned Monday on charges of disorderly conduct, rioting and failure to disperse.

According to a statement from the university, UMass Amherst has initiated a review of the matter under the student code of conduct process.

“If students are found responsible for a code violation, they face sanctions ranging from a reprimand and probation up to suspension or expulsion from the university,” the statement read.

After multiple orders to disperse, police in riot gear formed a line to push back the crowd, and used pepper spray to clear the premises. Vandalism, mostly to residence halls and bathrooms, caused an estimated $2,685 in damages, according to a statement from UMass spokeswoman Mary Dettloff.

Medical aid was requested for people with head injuries, lacerations and alcohol intoxication, and the Amherst Fire Department said ambulances transported seven people to Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

“Moving forward we need to be very clear about everybody’s responsibility to be members of the school community, respect each other, respect the university and all of us who are part of the community,” Blaguszewski said.