CHANCELLOR: University may punish Halloween offenders

A warning from ECU's chancellor that a repeat of last weekend's Halloween activities will not happen next year.

In an email to all students last night, Chancellor Steve Ballard said any student involved in illegal activities on Halloween or the day after will also face possible disciplinary action from the university.

So far, five people have been arrested for what police called a riot at Riverwalk Townhomes. One of those has been confirmed as an ECU student, while police say more arrests are pending.

Chancellor Steve Ballard says "the events that took place this Halloween were disturbing and compromised the reputation of the University and our students." He said in addition to Riverwalk, the university had to end early a "Halloween Havoc" event at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium because of fights and safety concerns due to intoxicated students and their guests. Ballard says there were also numerous cases of damage in residence halls, including "body-sized holes to hallway walls".

Ballard says next year Halloween falls on Saturday, "and we cannot and will not have a repeat of this weekend's events."


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Greenville police say they knew there was going to be a large party at Riverwalk Townhomes, but could not keep people from attending.

Some 3,000 people showed up at the apartment complex Halloween night, and police say it turned into a riot.

At a Monday morning news conference, Chief Hassan Aden says his officers walked through the complex Thursday, encouraging residents not to have large parties. A flier being distributed said there would be up to 10 kegs of beer at the Friday night party.

Aden said the complex management had a cookout that grew into a much larger street party. He said social media exploded, with scores of people walking to the complex. Aden said they had 25 officers at Riverwalk, but constitutionally they could not keep people from going to the party. The chief said by midnight they started getting calls for help.

Aden says some 200 bottles were thrown at officers, and fortunately no officers were injured. He said at one point the crowd started advancing on officers, and the chief felt the crowd needed to be broken up. Aden says he gave the order to deploy tear gas-type chemicals, which greatly assisted police in getting the crowd under control.

City councilwoman for District 3, Marion Blackburn, represents that area of Greenville where the rioting occurred.

She says the rioting, itself, concerns her, not necessarily how the police handled the matter.

She said that the use of what police call, “chemical munitions” was disturbing to her since the fumes could filter to surrounding homes, where families had peaceful Halloween celebrations.

Blackburn says in reference to the rioting, “no one wants to hear tear gas was used in their neighborhood and that’s very upsetting to me. And that things, at that state, tells me we need to be prepared in a different way to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Blackburn says she wants to talk to the property management and the Chief Police about preventing large gatherings from escalating to rioting.

“It’s upsetting to know people had bad intentions towards our police department and this is what they {officers} had to do to control and disperse the crowds.” Blackburn said.

The chief says next year they hope to obtain a mayoral declaration, which would enable them to keep people from going to potential trouble spots.

He estimates they spent around $40,000 to control the crowd.

The five arrested are:

Noah Sonne, 20, of Greenville. Charged with failure to disperse; and resist, delay and obstruct. Sonne has been an East Carolina student since 2013, according to the university.

Elijha Robinson, 19, of Greenville. Charged with failure to disperse; and resist, delay and obstruct.

Zachary Tanner, 18, of Matthews. Charged with felony incite riot; assault with a deadly weapon on a government official; and failure to disperse.

Stephen Ceperich, 22, of Glen Allen, VA. Charged with public disturbance; and failure to disperse.

Evan Shillmoller, of Wilmington. Charged with failure to disperse; and resist, delay and obstruct.

The police chief says they expect more arrests as they review their police body cameras.


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We're expecting to learn more today about the riot in a Greenville neighborhood on Halloween.

Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden has scheduled a press conference for 10:30 a.m. about the riot at the Riverwalk Townhomes on Halloween. Five people were arrested during what police called "egregious and unruly" behavior in a crowd of nearly 3,000 people. Their names have not been released by police at this point.

Several people went to the hospital with broken bones and cuts. Property damage included an ECU bus that cameras captured a person getting on top of, along with another car.

Meanwhile, Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas says there will never be a repeat performance of what happened at Riverwalk Townhomes. In a statement to WITN, Thomas said:
"We appreciate the great work with over 7,000 attendees downtown at the official event as well as the response by GPD and our regional partners in addressing and dispersing the large unsafe gathering at Riverwalk Townhomes. Greenville goes to great lengths to provide a safe outlet for an annual Halloween celebration downtown and will not tolerate activities in other areas that create a danger to public safety. It is clear the largest contingent of those involved were not from Greenville. Those who acted with little regard to the damage and danger they created will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Officials are working directly with the property owners of Riverwalk to prevent such activity from happening again in the future. We appreciate the overwhelming majority of residents and visitors who contributed to a great event downtown and across Greenville."

We'll update this story as more information is released today.



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At least 5 people were arrested following a chaotic Halloween night at a Greenville apartment complex.

Police said they responded to reports of a crowd of nearly 3,000 people who were engaging in "egregious and unruly" behavior at the Riverwalk Townhomes.

There were reports of property damage, including an East Carolina University bus.

ECU student Cory Albaugh was there. He said, "People were screaming 'flip that bus; flip that bus.' I'm not sure how that bus made it through." Albaugh continued, "There was a car that also got trashed. People were climbing on top of the light poles and stuff. One guy made it all the way to the top and was hanging off with one arm. It was nuts."

Police said they became targets when they went to help an injured man. "Our officers went in to rescue a seriously injured young man and were met by a hostile crowd who began throwing bottles and debris at our officers. It's highly disturbing that these people chose to attack the very individuals who were there to protect them," Chief Hassan Aden said.

We asked for more details about the person who was seriously injured. Police said officers and emergency personnel were eventually able to get to him. We're working to get more information on his condition and how he was injured in the first place.

Police said they deployed a gas to disperse the crowd. ECU student Waldron Jones had this to say about the police, "The cops they went a little bit crazy. I feel like, 'cause I was just standing by. I was trying to find some people. I was on the phone and they started coming at me with pepper spray."

We're told no officers were hurt, but several others were transported to the hospital via EMS with broken bones and lacerations.

No other information about those arrested was released, but police did say more arrests could be coming.

Chief Aden will hold a press conference Monday at 10:30 a.m. to address what happened.

Stay connected to WITN.com for updates.

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Greenville police and several other law enforcement agencies spent part of their Halloween night dealing with a unruly crowd of more than 3,000 people at a local apartment complex.

Officers say they arrived just after midnight Friday to the Riverwalk Townhomes to deal with numerous assaults, fights and extensive property damage. Police reports say officers used chemical munitions after they were targeted by the crowd.

Check out the slideshow to see pictures. In one photo, you can see the huge crowd as well as two people climbing a light pole. There is also a report of damage to an ECU transit bus. One picture shows students standing on the bus.

The bus sustained significant damage. "We are aware of the incident involving the bus and we are working cooperatively with Greenville police, who are investigating it," Director of ECU Transit Wood Davidson said.

The operator was not injured and all bus service to the area was canceled for the rest of the night. Bus service resumed Saturday.

As a result of the crowd and incidents, several arrests were made. Chief Hassan Aden expressed his disappointment with those who chose to attack the officers who were there to protect them.

Meanwhile, police say, the Uptown Greenville event was a success with more than seven thousand celebrating with few incidents.