WASHINGTON – A week after Prince George’s County police began airing video surveillance of rioters setting fires after the University of Maryland’s loss in the NCAA Final Four, the campaign has resulted in at least a half dozen tips and the arrest of four suspects.
A concurrent campaign by campus police featuring pictures of student rioters on a university web site and in the school newspaper has not yet resulted in any arrests.
But the campus police chief said arrests will come once information is referred to the state attorney general’s office. The campus judicial office was also handling five disciplinary cases related to the fires as of Friday.
Although posting the pictures on the campus police web site was controversial with some students, a police spokesman said there had been over 10,000 hits last weekend. An “average amount of hits would be considerably below this,” said the spokesman, Capt. Don Smith.
While he campus police web site is often used to describe crimes and criminal suspects, using it to post wanted pictures and encouraging fellow students to turn them in may be a first.
“I don’t remember it having been done in the past. As far as using pictures, it may be a first,” Smith said.
The county police pictures are being shown on local cable channel 29-B, where viewers are asked to call in if they recognized anyone in the photographs. The pictures came from video that was taken by undercover officers roaming through the crowds that set large bonfires and vandalized property following the March 31 game, said county police spokesman Cpl. Robert Clark.
“We have had over a half-dozen tipsters saying that they recognize some of the individuals on channel 29-B,” Clark said. “We were just glad that people took it upon themselves to call in.”
He said the airing of the pictures was worked out with Comcast, the local cable provider which lost a $300,000 cable box in College Park in one of the bonfires.
Tips that lead to an arrest and indictment can garner up to a $1,000 reward. Clark said it takes more than just a tipster’s word to create a case, but added that the Crime Solvers reward fund would “probably be paying out some money.”
Those arrested so far include Josh Weidman, 22; Jeremy Duncan, 20; Dawn M. Christensen, 19; and Mark J. Mansueto, 22.
Each was charged with one count of 1st-degree malicious burning, a felony, and one count of 2nd-degree malicious burning, a misdemeanor. Weidman was also charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property over $500, a misdemeanor, while the other three were each charged with six counts of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. All had to post $10,000 bond.
Although no arrests have been made by campus police, the chief of the department said they are forthcoming. Besides being posted on the were posted on the campus police web, pictures of the rioters also appeared in the Wednesday edition of the Diamondback, the student newspaper.
“We’ve been reviewing tapes and other information . . .trying to identify the names of the folks displayed,” said University of Maryland Police Chief Kenneth Krouse. “We’ve identified people who play a role in the destruction of property and vandalism and we are going to pursue that either in circuit court or Judicial Programs.”
Gary Pavela, director of Judicial Programs, said he expects the number of cases his office is handling to increase.
“There are five disciplinary cases in progress related to either pre- or post-game disturbances on campus,” Pavela said. “I expect more because the university police take some time to finish their investigation.”
Pavela said that students who are convicted of any felonies, regardless of whether they happened on or off campus, are subject to expulsion from the university, in addition to any criminal punishment they may face.