|Police Charge U. of Md.
Destroying Property in Saturday's
College Park Rampage |
Tynisa E. Trapps
University of Maryland wrestler Josh Weidman (Courtesy University of Maryland Athletics) |
Thursday, April 5, 2001; posted at 7:50 p.m.
Md. - Prince
George's County Police arrested a University of Maryland wrestler today in connection with a
major fire set in College Park following the Terps' Final Four loss to Duke.
Josh Weidman, 22, of the 7300 block of Dickinson Avenue in College Park, was arrested
at his home and charged with first- and second-degree
malicious burning and malicious destruction of property. Police allege
Weidman helped start Saturday night's fire on Dickinson Avenue that took out
a Comcast Cable line and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in
That fire put "the community and police at risk," said Prince
George's County Chief of Police John Farrell. He added Weidman's arrest followed a
tip from a student.
"We promised we'd
follow up diligently," Farrell said. "It's extremely important
we send a message for the future that these types of activities simply
won't be tolerated."
Attempts to reach Weidman by phone were
unsuccessful, but his mother, Sue Weidman, said "this is not in his
"I don't know what to say. I'm
speechless," she said from her home in Hershey, Pa., after a reporter
told her of her son's arrest. "He has never done
this before. His mother would beat him up if he did."
A spokesman for the University of
Maryland Athletics Department said it was unlikely the coach would comment
this evening on Weidman's arrest.
The charge of first-degree malicious
burning carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Second-degree malicious burning carries a maximum sentence of 18 months
and/or a $500
fine. Malicious destruction of property carries a three-year sentence and/or
$2,500 fine, the chief said.
Weidman was one of the thousands of students, alumni and others who gathered in residential neighborhoods of College Park
after the Terp basketball team's 11-point loss to Duke. For more than two hours, the mobs set more than 60 fires, knocked down street signs and knocked out cable service to residents of College Park, Laurel
and Adelphi, police said.
College Park City Manager Richard Conti estimated damage to the city was between $22,000
and $23,000. Conti estimated that damage to Comcast Cable was more than
$500,000, although Comcast officials later put the total at about
Maj. Cathy Atwell of the University of Maryland Police Department estimated the cost of damage on campus
was about $3,000. A window in Ellicott Dining Hall was smashed, numerous
trash cans were toppled and set on fire and several windows in the
Computer and Space Sciences building were cracked.
Two students were hospitalized for burns. Atwell said there were
many minor injuries that were treated on the spot by ambulance crews.
hooliganism is not something that just started spontaneously,"
Farrell said. "It really evolved into an intense demonstration of
this anything-goes attitude."
Farrell said tapes of the rampage
obtained from area TV stations will be broadcast tonight and the next
two nights on Cable Channel 29B in Prince George's County. He said if anyone recognizes
anyone involved in criminal activity, they're encouraged to call the Crime Solvers hotline at 301-735-1111.
A $1,000 reward is
being issued for information that leads to an arrest.
going to continue to do everything we can for the community to make sure
justice is served," Farrell said. "We expect additional suspects
will be identified and charged."
Video released by Prince George's County Police. (Best viewed on a corporate LAN.)
The University Police will post photos of some of the revelers
on its Web site and in the campus daily, the Diamondback.
"It is clear this is a national phenomena, and people like to copycat and
imitate what they see, and it's not just college students," Atwell
said. "It's not the why the police are trying to figure out, but it's,
'How we can do this differently?' "
George Cathcart, director of university communications, said the university
plans to take action against students convicted of criminal behavior.
"We will bring these people to justice," Cathcart said. "We
want to send a clear message that these actions are illegal and not
He added the university is looking at ways to ensure that future events, like a
concert held annually in May, won't get out of hand.
have to find new ways to celebrate and express our feelings that are not
destructive and that respect other people's property," Cathcart
mother said she was aware of the incidents that followed the Terrapins'
loss to Duke in the NCAA tournament, but was surprised that
her son may have been involved. "He certainly didn't call me up and
say, 'Hey, I was burning mattresses in the street,' " she said.
News Service reporter Robert F. Patrick contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism.
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