Celebration of Texas Tech’s NCAA Championship semifinal victory triggers riots in Lubbock

Updated: Apr. 7, 2019 at 11:19 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Many Texas Tech fans are feeling it after celebrations of the Red Raiders’ underdog win over Michigan State Saturday night quickly got out of hand.

Excited students from the bars along Broadway Street flooded into the intersection with University Avenue, east of Texas Tech campus between 11 o’clock and midnight after the game.

Amid the rowdy crowds, what started with fans setting articles of clothing on fire was stepped up by fans then burning a couch, a controversial tradition of students at Michigan State University.

Eventually a car parked on Broadway was flipped over as fans climbed on top, nearby speakers playing the new song by Hip Hop artist, Lil Naz X, “Old Town Road,” that has become an anthem for many Tech fans throughout the tournament.

Lubbock police responded to the riots by attempting to keep people away from the area, witness video shows officers trying to contain thousands of zealous Red Raiders amidst the chaos.

The City of Lubbock has reported vandalism and property damage but no serious injuries.

As the party wore on, tougher tactics were needed to prevent further escalation. After a fight broke out, K-9 units and SWAT units moved in to disperse the crowd.

Tear gas was released and people gradually moved from the streets to the sidewalks along Broadway.

Lubbock police released this statement Sunday:

(LUBBOCK, TX) – The Lubbock Police Department is currently investigating several incidents of property damage on Broadway after the Texas Tech Men’s Basketball win over Michigan State Saturday night. Investigators will continue to gather information, photos and videos and work with the Lubbock Fire Marshal’s Office to pursue charges against those suspects.

Starting before the game, LPD had additional resources spread throughout the city in anticipation of large celebrations. At approximately 10 p.m., a large crowd of several thousand people began to gather in the Broadway area near Texas Tech.

LPD officers already on scene quickly contained the crowd to a one block area to allow them to continue to celebrate the win. During the celebration a small group of people began to damage property including flipping a car and setting several scooters on fire.

Due to the crowd’s rowdy nature, officers on standby moved in and ordered the crowd to disperse. Tear gas was eventually deployed to break up the crowd.

At approximately 1:45 a.m., the roads were cleared and reopened.

Despite several people being uncooperative, officers being taunted and hit by bottles, officers showed great restraint in dispersing the crowd and successfully containing several thousand people to a small isolated area.

While the main goal last night was to disperse the crowd, the focus has now shifted to the criminal investigations. Those engaged in violent behavior or destruction of property will face criminal charges to include criminal mischief, arson and riot. LPD is also working with Texas Tech officials to identify students potentially involved in the Saturday night crimes.

LPD and several other agencies such as Lubbock Fire Rescue, EMS, Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety, and Texas Tech Police Department continue to prepare for Monday’s game and post celebrations. Community members should again expect road closures around the Texas Tech area.

LPD would like to thank those fans who celebrated responsibly and we wish the Texas Tech basketball team good luck in the National Championship.

The City of Lubbock released a statement about the event around 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning, saying, “The crowd engaged in extremely dangerous and disappointing behavior including vandalizing property.”

Texas Tech University released a statement Sunday morning regarding the NCAA Final Four win and celebrations:

“This is a historical achievement in the university’s history and a great source of pride for all Red Raiders. As we continue to celebrate, we must do so in a way that does not diminish this incredible moment. Texas Tech has the best fans in the country and we appreciate their enthusiastic support and ask that they celebrate with integrity, positive energy and respect.”

The Saddle Tramps fraternity of Texas Tech made the decision to not lead Bell Tower Tours following the national championship game on Monday. They made the announcement Sunday morning:

The City of Lubbock says cleanup crews worked all night to pick up the mess left behind. A KCBD reporter went out early Sunday Morning and saw City of Lubbock crews sweeping and picking up trash. There were also two street sweeper trucks cleaning the road as well.

No injuries or arrests have been reported at this time.

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