Police, ambulances respond to chaotic scene near Keene State College

A large number of people we seen on Blake Street in Keene, N.H., this afternoon.Boston Globe – by Melissa Hanson and Alyssa Edes

Multiple ambulances have been sent to a disturbance Saturday afternoon at the Pumpkin Festival near Keene State College in New Hampshire, and one incident drew “multiple responses” from Keene Police, officials said.

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.

According to a witness, police responded in riot gear early Saturday afternoon and used tear gas to break up the crowd.  

“There were about 4,000 kids in this backyard and it almost felt like a war zone,” said Ellery Murray, a sophomore at Keene State. “People were just throwing everything they could find — rocks, skateboards, buckets, pumpkins. It was actually kind of scary.”

“[Police] were wearing shields and knee-pads and had all these dogs herding people out of the yard into the street,” said Murray.

Murray said she was at large house party near the festival early Saturday afternoon when people started lobbing beer bottles and other objects into the crowd.

A heavy police presence was seen in Keene, N.H. this afternoon.

Murray said many at the party were students from surrounding schools, including the University of New Hampshire, the University of Rhode Island, and the University of Massachusetts.

Murray said there were disturbances at Pumpkin Festival before, “but it wasn’t crazy like this last year. People just got too drunk.”

A spokeswoman for Keene State said she could not comment on injuries or arrests, but that the incidents did involve Keene State students and visitors to Keene.

“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,” Kelly Ricaurte, the spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Keene State has been communicating with the city and with students and parents regarding the event, Ricaurte said.

“Incidents in the city, not on Keene State’s campus, subsided overnight but began to increase again by mid-afternoon on Saturday,” the statement said. “One large assembly on Winchester Street drew multiple responses from Keene Police on Saturday afternoon.”

“State and local public safety officials are on the scene and have been working closely together to defuse the situation., Governor Maggie Hassan said in a statement. “I was in Keene this afternoon and met with our public safety officials and visited the medical tent and other volunteers. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide any assistance necessary to Keene.”


2 thoughts on “Police, ambulances respond to chaotic scene near Keene State College

  1. “People were just throwing everything they could find — rocks, skateboards, buckets, pumpkins. It was actually kind of scary.”

    Sounds like Palestine.

    Except for the skateboards, buckets, and pumpkins.

    1. Drunk Kids. What else can be said? When I went to college these social functions were called ‘End of the World Fests’, and a Fraternity hosted the event in a private, remote, rural setting — NOT in a community neighborhood.

      Of course, it did take a good 24-hours+ just to function after the party ended.

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