The annual Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire turned into what police are simply calling “the situation.” SWAT teams were deployed to the scene and witnesses say tear gas was used to break up riots.
The Boston Globe reports that multiple ambulances have been sent to a disturbance Saturday afternoon near Keene State and that “multiple responses” were needed from local police. The Keene police and fire departments would not say if people were injured or provide details of what was happening. A police dispatcher did say the response was to an incident at the Pumpkin Festival. However, a witness told the Globe that police responded in riot gear early Saturday afternoon and used tear gas to break up the crowd.
Ellery Murray, a sophomore at Keene State, described the scene.
“There were about 4,000 kids in this backyard and it almost felt like a war zone. People were just throwing everything they could find — rocks, skateboards, buckets, pumpkins. It was actually kind of scary.”
According to WLOS, students at the festival are reporting that several people were injured from thrown bottles at a party involving hundreds of people. Twitter is also firing up with additional information and photos from people near “the situation.”
Swat teams and riots at Keene State today pic.twitter.com/G03H36x7zp
— Meghan Vogt (@meghanvogtx) October 19, 2014
A video of a small portion of the chaos was uploaded by Yahoo. Below you can see a stampede of students running through the streets near Keene State.
Yahoo reports that the issue was classified as a Level 2 Mass-casualty incident by the Keene Fire Department. The department also called in backup from surrounding towns to address the medical emergencies surrounding the incident.
Keene State released an official statement regarding the incident,
“Over the past few days, a large number of out-of-town visitors have come to Keene for the Keene Pumpkin Festival. Subsequently, during the course of the evening on Friday, off-campus gatherings associated with the Keene Pumpkin Festival escalated at a number of locations around the city. We are mindful that Keene State students played a part in this behavior and we intend to hold those individuals accountable for their actions. We deplore the actions of those whose only purpose was to cause mayhem. We can expect that the promotion by individuals and organizations of Keene and the Pumpkin Festival as a destination for destructive and raucous behavior, will only increase. And we are certain that the negative behavior will continue if nothing changes.”