Police analysis of UK post-game celebration: 50 arrests, 60 fires

jwarren@herald-leader.com; jkegley@herald-leader.comApril 3, 2012 

Lexington police had tallied 50 arrests by Tuesday evening related to the celebration of the University of Kentucky's NCAA championship win Monday night, and the number was expected to climb.

About 60 fires were reported, and more than 20 people, including a shooting victim, were taken to the hospital.

However, police emphasized at a news conference Tuesday that the majority of revelers was well-behaved. Police said crowds at South Limestone, State Street and the intersection of Woodland and Euclid avenues totaled 15,000 to 20,000 people.

"The number of arrests we made and the number of problems we had, we felt like, were relatively small based on the number of people that we had celebrating," Police Chief Ronnie Bastin said. "I think that speaks volumes to Wildcat fans and the Big Blue Nation."

The shooting occurred near University of Kentucky Hospital, several blocks from the main celebration on Limestone, as the crowd was dispersing. The victim, Harold Calloway of Louisville, was shot in the foot. The injury required that his foot be amputated, police said.

Calloway has outstanding felony warrants for drug trafficking pending from Indiana, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

Lt. J.J. Lombardi said the shooting occurred about 2:15 a.m. Calloway was in a vehicle with friends and got out after an argument with people on the sidewalk.

"They were up here for the celebration," Lombardi said.

Reportedly seven or eight shots were fired, one of which hit Calloway.

Fire department Battalion Chief Ed Davis was across the street when the shooting occurred.

"I was standing in front of my truck with a police officer exchanging some information, and we heard some yelling and looked across the street," he said. "A guy began firing shots, and the person who was shot was between us and him, so the shots were coming in our direction."

Davis said firefighters and police ushered a family, including a boy, to cover behind Davis' truck. Hundreds of people walking in the area scattered.

"We could see the guy shooting; we could see the muzzle flashes; the gun was pointed in our direction," he said. Officers were looking for the shooter Tuesday.

Police also said they will upload photos of the post-game mayhem to IdentifyThisPerson.com in hopes that residents can help identify those involved in illegal activities.

The rowdiest crowd Monday was on State Street, where multiple arrests, fires and injuries occurred. Most fires were clothes or furniture. No car fires were reported; police didn't allow parking on State Street and surrounding areas beginning Monday afternoon.

However, two garages caught fire on State Street, Davis said. One was heavily damaged. The other was damaged by fireworks that struck the roof, he said.

Officers altered their enforcement strategy Monday on State Street, Bastin said. Officers took the "high ground," standing on elevated lawns to observe the crowd rather than actively trying to disperse it, as they did Saturday.

When officers saw illegal or dangerous activity — such as a fight, someone trying to start a fire or someone throwing bottles — an arrest team dispersed the crowd, sometimes with a barrage of pepper spray pellets fired from paintball guns, and arrested the perpetrators.

The tactics drew mixed reactions from partiers.

"The pepper spray is stupid. Let the crowd die down on its own," said Lou Woods, who was partying Monday night on State Street. "We're celebrating, and the cops can't stop us from doing that."

However, Kevin Curtis, strolling around with 12-pack of Budweiser cans under one arm, took a different view.

"It's pretty ridiculous that everybody is actively taunting the police right now and throwing bottles and stuff," he said. "If I were a cop, I would let loose on them. They're asking for it."

As officers tackled and arrested troublemakers, the surrounding crowd cheered wildly. Many wore welts from pepper balls as badges of honor.

Police said many of the people causing problems on State Street were not UK students or tenants in the area, which is mostly rental properties. According to police records, many arrested for alcohol intoxication, disorderly conduct or criminal mischief were from out of town. Some were from out of state.

On Limestone and at the Woodland-Euclid intersection, and on most of State Street, the crowd was excited but well-behaved. Most of the crowd's interactions with police were positive, Bastin said. Revelers hugged, high-fived and took pictures with officers in riot gear.

"It was a very happy crowd, an extremely happy crowd, for the most part, and one that it was a pleasure to work with," Bastin said. "We had relatively few issues that we had to take serious actions with."

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255. Josh Kegley (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @hlpublicsafety.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service