3 arrested in West Chester party gone wild

The 400 block of South Walnut Street in West Chester around 1 p.m. Saturday as borough police broke up a large party.
The 400 block of South Walnut Street in West Chester around 1 p.m. Saturday as borough police broke up a large party. (BEN ALESSI)
Posted: May 08, 2013

Three people were arrested Saturday afternoon after police broke up a party near West Chester University and a riot erupted.

The party was at a house in the 400 block of South Walnut Street, an area long known for off-campus housing and big parties. Shortly before 1 p.m., police broke up the gathering, with an estimated 500 people pouring onto the street, blocking traffic, jumping atop moving vehicles, and chanting. Many people refused to leave, and one group flipped a car onto its side.

"It was complete chaos," said West Chester senior Alexis Johnson, 22, who lives down the street. Her housemate, Maria Martin, agreed.

"It was almost like we weren't in West Chester anymore," she said. "It was like something out of a movie."

Three were arrested as police cleared the scene, and several other cars were damaged, but no injuries were reported, said Police Chief Scott Bohn. The police are reviewing video footage and photos taken from the scene, he said, and additional arrests may be made.

Former West Chester student Jeffrey Kiely, 20, was charged with riot, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct for his alleged role in flipping the car. Police also charged a 19-year-old Villanova man, Zachary Geanotes, with furnishing alcohol to minors, disorderly conduct, and other offenses. Andrew Derr, 19, of Willow Grove, was arrested on charges of failing to disperse, underage drinking, and providing a fake ID.

In a statement, West Chester University said the school would work with police to discipline any students who were found to be in violation of the code of conduct.

The party was affiliated with "I'm Shmacked," which refers to a series of short YouTube videos depicting college life and parties at schools around the country. The "I'm Shmacked" brand was started in 2010 by Lower Merion High School graduate Jeffie Ray and George Washington University student Arya Toufanian. They produced the first such video, which featured Temple University students partying and going to a concert.

Since then, the company name has been used to promote college parties from coast to coast.

Police were aware that the party was planned, Bohn said, and officers first warned the hosts on Friday night, when they noticed tents being set up outside the house. The next morning, Bohn said, police showed up and warned the hosts again that they would be monitoring the event. Two men standing outside the house on Monday declined comment.

Partygoers on Saturday paid $15 to attend, police said, so many were angered when the festivities were shut down after just a few hours. "It was a bit of a flash point," Bohn said.

 Members of the "I'm Shmacked" team could not be reached for comment, but the company Twitter account posted on Saturday: "WCU cops ruined a perfectly safe and fun day party and caused more chaos than the party itself."

The next day, the account posted: "Thanks to all the universities for being so hospitable to us! #onlylove"


Contact Allison Steele at 610-313-8113 or asteele@phillynews.com

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