Police arrest 2 more people linked to London, Ont. riot
Published Monday, March 19, 2012 10:28PM EDT
Police have arrested two more people in connection with a St. Patrick Day riot in London, Ont., and say more charges are expected as they comb through video and witness statements.
That brings to 13 the number of people who have been arrested in the wake of the weekend riot near London's Fanshawe College, said Const. Dennis Rivest.
Eight of those arrested are Fanshawe College students who have been suspended and are facing expulsion.
Fanshawe College president Howard Rundle said earlier today he was disappointed and angry over the massive street fire fuelled by an intoxicated crowd of about 1,000 revellers who attacked police and firefighters.
Rundle is urging anyone with information to come forward and says Fanshawe has set up a secure email account to receive tips.
Students have also started a Facebook page to identify suspected rioters, and that information will be shared with police.
"I am extremely disappointed, I might even say angry at the behaviours of all those individuals," Rundle told reporters at a Monday morning news conference.
It was the first time Rundle had spoken publicly about the out-of-control party that saw revellers overturn vehicles, light fires and hurl random objects at police officers.
The riot began after a party on Fleming Drive in the city's east end -- an area heavily populated with students.
"Sadly, I must say the actions of some of our students not only endangered themselves, but put our emergency responders and our community at risk," said Rundle.
Fanshawe student union president Veronica Barahona agreed that students linked to the melee should be suspended from campus.
Barahona told CTV News Channel that law-abiding students are frustrated and angry at fellow students who may have participated in the riot.
"This is something that cannot ever happen again at this college," Barahona said. "It interferes with daily life."
The student union president said the riots could permanently damage Fanshawe's reputation and hurt students' chances of finding work.
"There are tons of students who are going to be looking for jobs in the next month," Barahona said. "It's so unfortunate that these students had to . . . mess this up for us."
While the riot wasn't immediately on the Fanshawe campus, Rundle said the school is investigating because its student code of conduct can apply to off-campus incidents in special circumstances.
"This is unacceptable, it will not be tolerated, it will not be excused and we will not have those people as students of this college," said Rundle, who was out of town when the chaos began to unfold.
Violence erupted just before 10 p.m. Saturday when partygoers ignited a fire and began fuelling it with whatever they could find including wooden planks, litter and a television. At one point, a vacant CTV News van was swarmed by rioters and set on fire.
"We can thank our lucky stars that nobody was killed," London Mayor Joe Fontana told reporters on Sunday.
Witnesses reported seeing several people with non-life-threatening injuries such as cuts and bruises. As well, several police officers received minor injuries after being hit with glass bottles, tire rims and more.
Police estimate the group, estimated to number 1,000 at its peak, caused $100,000 worth of damage in what they're calling "the worst case of civil disobedience" in London's history.
Police intend to ramp up their presence in neighbourhoods near Fanshawe College, Western University and Richmond Row.
As was the case with the investigators probing last year's Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, London police say social media has played a key role in this riot investigation.
They've received information concerning potential suspects spotted on websites, as well as on YouTube and Twitter.
"We've been in the world of social media for a while now, but clearly this has been a terrific aid for us in our investigation and in identifying who all of the individuals are," said Const. Rivest.
Rundle has acknowledged that hundreds of Fanshawe students were involved in the riot, but says the incident also involved individuals from other schools and towns.
"That's what happens when a student enclave develops in a city, it earns a reputation and it attracts people," he told reporters.
Rundle said landlords in the Fleming Drive area, a reputed trouble spot, need to shoulder some responsibility for the St. Patrick's Day riot. In the future, he said Fanshawe may need to explore ways to break up the student population on Fleming.
Meanwhile, London Mayor Joe Fontana has pledged to punish the partiers in "one way, shape or form."
With a report from The Canadian Press