MANKATO (AP) -- Sixteen people were injured and 45 people were arrested after revelers got out of hand Saturday night during homecoming weekend at Minnesota State, Mankato.
The trouble began around 10:30 p.m. when two officers responded to a disturbance at a student apartment complex near campus, where more than 200 people were drinking, jumping on cars and rocking vehicles, police said.
The officers retreated and waited for more officers to arrive. The crowd then moved to the parking lots of another student housing complex, where people set fire to trash bins, overturned cars and threw rocks and bricks at police. As many as 3,000 people were in the crowd, police said, with as many as 300 taking part in the rioting.
"When police backed off, the students were so excited because they thought they had defeated the cops," said Brian Boothe, a senior at the school.
About 160 police officers from 41 agencies -- dressed in riot gear -- dispersed the crowd by about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, said Jim Franklin, the city's public safety director. The officers used eye and skin irritants on the crowd.
Four officers were injured by thrown projectiles, Franklin said. About half of the people arrested were students and face charges including disorderly conduct, rioting and arson.
"It was utter drunkenness," said Mary Iverson, a homeowner in the area where the disturbance took place.
The university's president, Richard Davenport, said students identified in videotapes that were taken at the scene would face disciplinary action. The students might be suspended or expelled, depending upon their participation in the riot, he said.
"I found the events of last night deeply disturbing," he said. "To the extent that our students were involved with others, we are extremely disappointed."
He also said, "We all know that alcohol is a big problem socially, and we saw it in our community last night."
Franklin, who blamed alcohol for the problems, said the area was so hostile it took an armored vehicle attended by 12 officers to pick up a student who reportedly wasn't breathing.
The mob damaged vehicles and shut down a street. Franklin said police also received reports of fights between students.
Four large fires were reported in an apartment complex parking lot. The fires were set in trash bins and on a car that was tipped over. Windows were broken out of cars, fence posts were torn out of the ground and business and street signs were torn down and destroyed, witnesses said.
Bob Idding, who lives near the site of the riots, said he couldn't believe what he was seeing after he walked to the scene.
"It was the scariest feeling in the world," Idding said. "I shouldn't have been there, I know that. My wife and I were telling each other, 'This isn't Mankato, Minnesota. We have police in riot gear in the streets."'
North Dakota State beat Minnesota State, Mankato, 20-9, in the homecoming contest. The Mavericks are 0-6 for the season.
The University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus was the scene of similar violence the past two years following the school's back-to-back NCAA hockey championships.
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