Riot in Campustown, one person confirmed injured

Members of the Ames Police Department watched over a large crowd of people near Campustown to help keep individuals at bay as they moved toward Lincoln Way. 

One man was hit with a light pole on the back of the head when a large group of people amassed in Campustown on April 8 and stayed there into the night.

The riot began on the second night of Veishea when people flipped a car on Welch Avenue as police on the scene ushered the chanting crowd off the streets and away from the overturned car.

The crowd began launching beer bottles and other objects onto Welch Avenue and at police cars. 

A second car was flipped on Stanton Avenue around midnight April 9. 

“It’s entertaining but not my idea of Veishea … this isn’t what Veishea is about,” said Logan Kraft, senior in supply chain management. 

Chants, beer cans and fire crackers filled the air above the crowd and a mass filled Stanton Avenue outside of Es Tas. Beer bottles and fire crackers were thrown at on-foot patrol officers and police cars as police were reversing down Stanton Avenue. 

The crowd then began to move toward Lincoln Way and spanned both lanes, then headed west back toward Welch Avenue.

Men and women climbed street signs, poles and buildings while chanting “USA” and “Veishea.” 

Groups began taking down street signs and at least three light poles. One light pole hit a man in the back of the head. He was lying about 20 yards across from the clock tower on Welch Avenue and was bleeding from the head. 

“That’s kind of when things turned a little bit,” Geoff Huff, investigations commander of the Ames Police, said about the injury caused by the light pole. “A lot of people started to see how serious and how awful this was turning out to be.”

Huff said as far as he knew, that was the most serious injury of the night. 

“I saw a lot of people in the crowd get hit with stuff,” Huff said. “I’m sure there were other injuries, I just haven’t heard about them yet. I just can’t understand why they do it.”

Some bystanders blocked the crowds from getting too close to the unconscious man before police arrived. When paramedics got to the man, he was unconscious, but had a pulse.

The man was life-flighted to Des Moines. There is no word on his condition at this time.  

Veishea riots broke out in 1992, 1994 and 2004, the last of which resulted in the cancellation of 2005’s Veishea celebrations by former president Gregory Geoffroy. There were no serious injuries for the 2013 Veishea celebrations. In 2012, a 21-year-old visitor from Cedar Rapids fell to his death from a fourth-floor balcony on Chamberlain Street. The 1997 murder of Harold Sellers outside of Adelante Fraternity was the only student death officially linked to Veishea.  

“I think we’re kind of surprised that it happened.” Huff said of the night’s incidents. “It’s really too bad.  I’m quite frankly embarrassed by the whole thing.”

Huff said that the Ames Police were prepared for this weekend, but may revisit changing staffing after what happened April 8.

“This is completely out of the blue. I have no idea what set this off,” Huff said. “I think most of the officers are just frustrated that we really just can’t get people to realize what an awful thing is going on.”

President Steven Leath issued comments around 3 a.m. that said he was immediately made aware of the situation. Student Affairs has contacted the student’s family. 

Leath said it is unknown at this time whether Veishea will officially continue for the remainder of the week. 

“My senior cabinet will convene first thing in the morning to assess this situation and evaluate options for the remainder of our official Veishea activities planned for this week,” Leath said. 

Dominic Spizzirri and Greg Zwiers contributed to this story.