At least two police cruisers were damaged Saturday night after authorities broke up an off-campus bash near the University of Akron that drew thousands of partygoers.
Witnesses said police used tear gas as mobs of people ran through the streets after city and university police officers shut down the Sherman Fest on Irisdale Place between Allyn and Sumner streets around midnight.
“There were just tons and tons of people,” said Cody Neidig, 20.
Neidig and his housemates, all students at the University of Akron, watched from their front porch near the party as at least a dozen cruisers lined the streets and police in riot gear used tear gas on the crowd.
“It was crazy,” said his housemate, Spencer Neigs, 20. “Everybody took off running.”
“People were running through our yard and stuff,” added Allen Wilson, 19.
Two university police cruisers that were parked at nearby Leggett elementary school to assist city police officers were damaged by thrown bottles, UA spokeswoman Eileen Korey said. No officers were injured.
University officials were told many of the attendees were juveniles, not UA students, Korey said.
There was at least one arrest but that person was not a UA student, she said.
“We’re always prepared,” she said. “Sherman Fest is a yearly thing.”
But this year’s bash might be the last.
“I think that’s going to be the last one, because we don’t want to put the city at harm, people at harm, because people can’t control themselves,” said Xavier Young of Akron, owner of Xay Entertainment, which helped promote the event.
Organizers said the outdoor party with music and DJs attracted about 4,000 people — far more than the 2,500 to 3,000 they had been expecting.
“We got overrun,” said one of the organizers, Jason Smith, 24, of Akron.
Smith said between 20 to 30 people were hired to work security and another seven were checking IDs as partygoers entered the area, which was secured with fencing.
“We wanted to be able to throw a safe and responsible party and bring everybody together in a good way, where everybody was going to be safe,” he said.
When police arrived shortly before midnight, he said, he asked a sergeant to help shut down the party because there were too many people.
“We cooperated the whole time,” Smith said.
Problems started when one partygoer threw a bottle at a police car, Young said.
“All it takes was one person to start things,” he said. “One person threw a bottle at the cop car and then it started raining glass.”
Smith said all the other incidents — including reports of a flipped vehicle on Sherman Street — happened after the party ended, away from the event site.
“The police did their best to keep things under control,” he said. “They did a damn good job. I have nothing but respect for the Akron Police Department.”
Organizers shared photos on Twitter and encouraged witnesses to contact Akron police with any information.
In one picture, nine people are standing around and on top of a police cruiser while extending middle fingers. In another, the front and rear windows of a vehicle are shattered.
“I want to do everything I can to help,” Smith said.
Akron police couldn’t be reached Sunday.
Korey said the university police department is continuing to work with the city police department, which is leading the investigation.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.