St. Paul police, schools investigate riot at game

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 1, 2010 - 10:43 PM

The cause of the brawl Thursday among 50 to 60 youths at the Central-Como Park football game was not clear.

St. Paul police and school officials on Friday were assessing what prompted a brawl that broke out Thursday night at Como Park's homecoming football game against Central High School.

A close game between undefeated Central and 2-2 Como Park erupted in violence -- a police report called it a riot -- about 9 p.m. The game was being played at Griffin Stadium, which is adjacent to Central High but also serves as Como Park's home field.

It's not clear what triggered the melee that involved 50 to 60 people, said officer John Keating, spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department. But officers from both schools who were working at the game said many of those involved did not appear to be students.

Officers went into the stands and had to use chemical spray to bring the fighters under control. Many fled, some by city bus.

There have been no arrests, though one 17-year-old was cited for disorderly conduct, Keating said.

Steven Froemming, who blogs about Twin Cities prep sports on his website, stevenssports.blogspot.com, was in the stadium press box. He said the initial scuffle broke out on the side of the stadium where Como Park fans sit. In response, 10 to 15 youths sprinted across the field to join the fray as the game was in play.

The game was halted only briefly, since players were on the far end of the field. "They didn't miss a beat," Froemming said.

Fans fled the stadium and were not allowed back in, he said. Central won the game 31-23.

Fights that spilled out into the neighborhood were still being broken up at 11:30 p.m., according to police reports.

About two dozen people flooded into the BP convenience store across Interstate 94 from the stadium on Lexington Parkway. As they began helping themselves to merchandise, a cashier on duty was assaulted.

"They took chips, candy pop, energy drinks -- anything they could get their hands on," said Tony Marouf, the store's manager.

The cashier was slightly injured and police are investigating.

Marouf said there has never been a similar incident stemming from football games.

Repeated attempts to reach the principals and coaches of both schools were not successful. The St. Paul school district released a statement that said: "The district and the schools involved are cooperating with the investigation and will take appropriate action once the investigation is completed."

Police, school administrators and athletic department officials are planning to meet on Monday to go over procedures and security plans to ensure there is not a repeat of the incident, Keating said.

Como Park's homecoming dance went on as scheduled Friday night, and Central has its homecoming festivities next week.

Jim Anderson • 651-735-0999

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