TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Tucson police said Saturday night that they shot pepper spray at several hundred fans who took to the streets and threw beer bottles and firecrackers at officers after the University of Arizona basketball team’s overtime loss in the NCAA tournament.
There were no immediate reports of injuries to fans or officers, but nine to 10 people were arrested for offenses such as disorderly conduct and unruly gathering, Tucson police Sgt. Pete Dugan said. He said those advancing on officers were arrested. The street has been cleared and secured and there are only stragglers remaining on side streets.
Dugan said crowds leaving bars and restaurants near campus after the game filled University Boulevard and wouldn’t leave despite urging through a PA system and social media declaring it an unlawful assembly.
Police brought in cruisers and a unit of officers with batons, helmets and face masks to block the street when people started tossing beer bottles, cans and firecrackers, hitting police vehicles and endangering officers.
Officers fired pepper spray, pepper canisters and pepper balls, which disperse into the air when they hit, Dugan said. No tear gas was used despite some reports.
A witness, David Kitaeff, told The Associated Press that the incident started innocently with people taking photos, but then “people got in cops’ faces.” He said fans were throwing drink cans at officers, whom he saw marching down University Boulevard.
Arizona lost 64-63 to Wisconsin in the West Region final Saturday in Anaheim, Calif.