University of Dayton students who had been watching their Flyers in the RecPlex Saturday night, filled Kiefaber and Lowes streets minutes after the team squeezed the Syracuse Orange to make it into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984.
Police from nearly a dozen local agencies quickly converged in the area to control the growing crowd, swelling to more than 1,000 students. While students partied, they also ignited a couch that prompted calls to city firefighters. Traffic access to those streets was cut off by police to protect students who were pouring into the streets.
Shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday, police in riot gear marched down Kiefaber Street and ordered students to leave the streets and return to their porches and homes. The order came after several students were seen throwing glass beer bottles. One student was treated by medics for a minor head injury. At least one arrest was made for disorderly conduct. Other students were seen standing on cars and were told to get down by officers. A group of students told one of our reporters on the scene that officers threatened them with arrest and bodily harm (night sticks and tasers) if they didn’t go inside.
Brad Kelley, 19, a junior at the University of Dayton who lives at 440 Keifaber, said police used tear gas on people while he was on his front porch. We could not confirm with police if tear gas or pepper spray was used to disperse crowds.
University President, Dr. Daniel Curran, was in the area most of the night celebrating with students. At one point, a beaming Dr. Curran was seen “crowd-surfing” with students. One witness said students rushed Curran and lifted him into the air in celebration. Later in the evening, Dr. Curran was urging students to comply with officer’s orders to go inside and clear the streets.
Police suited up in riot gear shortly after the team’s win to control the expanding crowd. It was a similar scene to last year’s St. Patrick’s Day unrest. Most of the evening, officers kept a watchful stance, and did not have to take more aggressive steps until after 1 a.m.
Many students said the crowd appeared to be larger than the troubled 2013 St. Patrick’s event, but the celebration for the Flyer victory over Syracuse was more peaceful and joyous.
Daniel Drescher, 22, a senior communications student in the crowd said, “I’ve been Flyer faithful all these years, now entering the Sweet 16, it’s outstanding.
“Everyone is just having a good time, they’re not doing anything wrong, just cheering and celebrating.”
Junior public relations major Melissa Hughes said she was thrilled to be part of the celebrations.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”