Lincoln University officials released more details about the tumultuous scene outside a homecoming concert Saturday night.
The 9 p.m. show at Jason Gymnasium capped off a week of LU homecoming events and cost the college an estimated $30,000.
The university sold 2,322 tickets for the show, nearly selling out the 2,519 capacity of the venue, according to LU spokesperson Misty Young.
Lincoln University Police Department’s 10 officers were assisted by 20 Cole County deputies, 15 members of a private security firm and later, personnel from the Jefferson City Police Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol.
“Initially the crowd and line was moving smoothly, but once barricades had to be moved to accommodate EMS needing to assist intoxicated individuals, the situation began to turn,” said Young. “Fights began breaking out in the crowd as people began cutting in line.”
LUPD chief Gary Hill told ABC 17 News that some concertgoers reported falling victim to ticket thieves snatching passes from their hands as they waited in line.
“Once we started having problems in the line, people started letting their friends who were waiting in line cut in front of them and bring other people into the line when they saw that opportunity,” said Hill. “That upset people who were already waiting in line, which caused them to start pushing and causing other disturbances in the line.”
“People in the back of the line were pushing forward causing those ahead of them to also push forward,” said Young. “This, in turn, created a dangerous situation at the door as many were pressed against the door.”
Hill confirmed that one of the law enforcement agencies used pepper spray to subdue the crowd outside the venue.
“One of the agencies did deploy mace into one of the fights that were happening,” said Hill. “Unfortunately, that was outside and when the wind’s blowing and everything else, it contaminated other people.”
Hill said a total of 10 people were transported to the hospital for various reasons during the concert. Several of those were due to the pepper spray used at the scene.
“After several attempts to reach a solution that would safely get ticket holders into the building, the best decision for the safety of all of those involved was to stop any further entry,” said Young.
On Monday, the University issued an apology to the concertgoers who weren’t able to get into the venue and promised to provide a refund via the same method through which the ticket was purchased.
Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler released a statement Tuesday afternoon defending his deputies use of pepper spray.
“There have been many questions as to our participation with Lincoln University
Homecoming Concert event. The Cole County Sheriff’s Department (CCSD) sent approximately twenty deputies each night. There were many fights during this event and CCSD personnel did use Pepper Spray in some instances, in accordance with our policy. We react to aggression in protection of others and ourselves.
There were many fights, some because of people stealing tickets, some because people were breaking in line and some due to inebriated people. During the fights, a metal barricade was broken, a metal trash can crushed and the main doors to Jason
Gym were broken.
We stand with Lincoln University on the decision to shut down this event. While it was the actions of the few that caused this, we cannot ignore safety risks to all of the people attending the event. It is also important to note that during these events, predominantly, we do not have issues with Lincoln Students themselves.
The Cole County Sheriff’s Department will continue to support LU anyway we can in the future. We are already talking about next year and how we can make these events safer and more enjoyable for all.” – Col e County Sheriff John Wheeler
The university did not immediately provide the number of refund requests issued since the announcement Monday, but Young told ABC 17 News she would work to obtain that information.
Cole County prosecutor Locke Thompson told ABC 17 News that his office was still processing the records of the eight people arrested Saturday night and could not immediately release any details about possible charges.
Copyright 2019 KMIZ