Ames police had a busy but less chaotic Wednesday night after riots broke out late Tuesday during Iowa State University’s annual VEISHEA celebration, seriously injuring one student and prompting administrators to cancel the rest of the weeklong event.
Tuesday’s riots added to a growing list of “ugly” incidents that have occurred over the years during VEISHEA, which got its start in 1922, and ISU President Steven Leath on Wednesday said he’s also appointing a task force to discuss how — or if — the annual celebration should continue.
The abrupt cancellation of the event that some students have been planning all year had some community members concerned that Wednesday night would produce more trouble. But Ames police Cmdr. Geoff Huff said it was much more manageable than Tuesday.
“We were busy, but we didn’t have any really bad incidents,” Huff said. “There was nothing too out of control, but we were busier than normal for a Wednesday night.”
In addition to Ames and ISU police, Huff said, dozens of ISU administrators — all clad in red — helped patrol the nearby Campustown area Wednesday night in an effort to keep revelers under control.
“There was a sea of red out there to support and help us,” Huff said. “They were walking around and visiting — it was really helpful to have them there.”
In total — between 8 p.m. Wednesday and 5 a.m. Thursday — Ames police responded to 51 calls for service and issued eight tickets for nuisance party, one ticket for underage possession of alcohol, and one ticket for possession of drug paraphernalia.
They made four arrests for public intoxication, interference with official acts, failure to disperse a nuisance party and allowing excessive noise from a vehicle.
So far, Huff said, police have arrested three individuals in connection with the Tuesday night riots.
Emily Guisinger, 18, and Andrew Herkenhoff, 19, were arrested before midnight Tuesday on suspicion of disorderly conduct. Abigail Lee, 21, was arrested Wednesday morning also on suspicion of disorderly conduct for her actions during the riots.
Guisinger is listed in the ISU student directory as a sophomore, and Herkenhoff is listed in the directory as an ISU freshman. Lee is not listed in the student directory.
Huff said he expects police will make “quite a few” more arrests connected to the Tuesday melee — possibly as soon as today.
“We said early on that if we can identify people who were clearly involved in criminal activity, we were going to charge them,” he said. “We owe that to our citizens, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Tipsters have flooded the department with information, including pictures and videos, Huff said. Investigators also have found a glut of information online — via YouTube and Facebook, for example.
“It’s helping move the investigation forward quickly,” Huff said.
An ISU student, whose name and age haven’t been made public, was seriously injured during the riots when a toppled light pole fell on top of him. ISU officials on Wednesday said he was in stable condition in an intensive care unit in a Des Moines Hospital, and Huff this morning said he had no update on that man’s condition.
Police have not yet interviewed the injured student, although Huff said that could happen once he’s healthy enough to do so.
In conversations with people late Wednesday and overnight, Huff said, most understood the administration’s decision to cancel VEISHEA.
“It’s unfortunate for all of us, but they really didn’t have a lot of options,” he said. “They said they weren’t going to tolerate any more shenanigans, and unfortunately that’s what we had Tuesday.”