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Police fire pepper spray at Arizona students after NCAA loss

March 30th, 2014 4:02 am by Associated Press

Police fire pepper spray at Arizona students after NCAA loss

Tucson police rush out of their line to take a man into custody who had been taunting them and riling up a crowd of fans in Maingate Square late Saturday night in Tucson Ariz. (AP Photo/Arizona Daily Star)

TUCSON, Ariz. — 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 Arizona's overtime loss in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

There were no reports of injuries to fans or officers, but 15 people were arrested for offenses such as resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly, Tucson police Sgt. Pete Dugan said. Of those arrested, 14 were released, and one was sent to Pima County jail. He said those advancing on officers were arrested. The street was clear and the crowd was gone by late Saturday.

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.

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