WEST CHESTER — Frustrated party guests flipped a car onto its side on the afternoon of Saturday, May 4, after police broke up a beer blast that organizers were warned not to start.
“Booze and education don’t mix,” said West Chester police Lt. William Morris.
Two people were arrested in what Police Chief Scott Bohn described as a “mass disturbance.” In a news release issued Saturday, police classified the incident as a “riot.”
There were no injuries, police said, and the only damage reported was to the side of the car overturned and another car behind it in the 400 block of South Walnut Street.
Bohn said the incident is not over, and charges against others will be filed as police continue to interview neighbors and witnesses and review video recordings in the days ahead.
“Our criminal investigators will be out again (Sunday)” to determine who was involved and who should be charged, he said.
Bohn noted police are receiving cooperation from neighbors.
“Young adults are cooperating with police, who are equally disgusted with this as well,” he said.
The South Walnut Street area where the incident occurred is a traditional center of off-campus housing for students at West Chester University. For decades, the neighborhood has been renowned for its student parties.
Bohn said police learned of a planned party at the South Walnut Street location and warned the organizers to cancel it. He said the landlord of the building where the disturbance had occurred had also warned residents before the party started.
Police said they responded to a disturbance at 411 S. Walnut St. to shut down a party at 12:42 p.m. and about 500 people were on Walnut Street at the time. Once the police broke up the party inside the residence, people moved to the front yard and into the street.
As people were leaving the property, some people congregated in the street and a few stood on parked cars chanting, witnesses and police said.
Witnesses said a group leaving the party pushed a van on the street. Several people in a group then pushed an automobile on its side, damaging its passenger side, police said.
The owner of the vehicle is a non-resident who was in the borough to visit a college friend, police said.
One witness from the party said people paid $15 to 20 to get into the party. The witness said the party-goers “felt robbed” because the police arrived before 1 p.m. and told them to leave the area.
According to some people at the South Walnut Street party scene, a $5 cover is usually required for entry to a party or red Solo cup for beer. The larger fee was considered expensive but the attraction was the promise of an all-afternoon party.
Witnesses said the party was based on a YouTube video called “I’m Shmacked.” Videos on YouTube taken at other universities in New York, West Virginia, Syracuse and Michigan show college-age students at parties.
People interviewed Saturday on South Walnut Street said not all the people at the party were students at West Chester University because outsiders had heard about the big party.
Police Chief Bohn noted that charging for beer at a party without a liquor license is also illegal.
He said police and borough officials will be meeting with members of the administration of West Chester University to discuss the situation in the days ahead.
Police said the street was cleared by about 1:45 p.m.
In an unrelated incident, police also shut down a party at a second residence in the 400 block of Mechanics Alley about the same time.
Police said Zachary Geanotes, 19, of Villanova, was charged with riot, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, furnishing alcohol to minors and underage drinking.
Police said Andrew Derr, 19, of Willow Grove, was charged for failure of disorderly persons to disperse, forgery, underage drinking and carrying a false identification card.
Both were scheduled for arraignment before a district judge. Details were unavailable.
Police found witnesses who captured photographs and videos on their cellphones of incident as people turned the vehicle on to its side.
The West Chester police were assisted by Westtown East Goshen, West Goshen and West Chester University police as the crowd was dispersed.
Investigators ask anyone with additional information to call the West Chester Police Department detective unit at 610-696-2700.