Tuesday, May 20, 2003

6 charged in riot near UC

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Using high-tech video enhancing equipment and image comparisons with student IDs, University of Cincinnati officials helped police identify people thought to have been involved in a Cinco de Mayo party in Clifton Heights that turned into a riot.


Photos of the melee
On Monday, a Hamilton County grand jury indicted six men - two of whom are UC students - on rioting charges, accusing them of damaging property and overturning two cars on Stratford Avenue on May 4.

"The situation got completely out of hand," said Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen. "We have no toleration for such behavior."

Police said revelers overturned cars, set cardboard afire in the street and attempted to torch a couch on Stratford Avenue, a block between Warner and McMillan streets and home to many UC college students who rent houses.

Jacob Heap, 21, of West Chester Township; Brandon Thomas, 18, of Hamilton; Anthony Hartlaub, 21, of Mount Washington, and Justyn King, 20, of Hamilton were charged with aggravated rioting and attempted arson. Heap and King are UC students.

The men tried to set a car on fire, according to the indictment. If convicted, they could face two years in prison.

Jonathan Bowling and Christopher Rowswell, both 19 of Anderson Township, were charged with rioting and criminal damaging. If convicted, they could face nine months in jail.

University of Cincinnati President Joseph Steger has said he would seek to expel any student found guilty of a felony.

"The neighbors are fed up, this is not the first time this has happened," said Allen, whose office will seek the maximum sentences.

Crystal Cottrill, 22, a UC student, told the Enquirer after the riot that party-goers lit cardboard on fire on the street in front of a house, then she saw them overturn a car on top of the flames. "Everyone was chanting, 'Light it on fire. Light it on fire.' We were afraid it was going to explode," Cottrill said.

It was a repeat of last year's party, in which two people were arrested after what police called a "mini-riot."

E-mail sturco@enquirer.com

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