Timeline of Tuesday Night’s ‘Coronafest’

Cover photo of riot police during ‘Coronafest’ taken by Christian Cubacub

Sean Newhouse & Grace James
Online Editor-in-Chief & News Editor

As of Thursday at 10 p.m., worldometer reports that there are more than 145,000 coronavirus cases worldwide and 5,423 deaths. The CDC reports that there are 1,629 cases in the U.S. across almost all 50 states and 41 deaths.

March 10 (Tuesday)

7:19 p.m. In-person classes suspended, housing to close for most students

University of Dayton president Eric Spina announces in an email to members of campus that in-person classes are suspended beginning 8 a.m. on Wednesday. This creates an earlier start to spring break, which was planned for March 13-22. Online classes are set to begin March 23 and last until at least April 6. 

Additionally, Spina announces that university housing will close for most students at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Students who were approved to stay on campus for spring break and international students are permitted to remain on campus. 

This comes on the same day that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine calls on Ohio colleges and universities to switch to “remote learning” after he announced on Monday that three Ohioans tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A number of other Ohio colleges and universities announce Tuesday that they are similarly switching to online classes. 

Between 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. “Coronafest” is organized  

Barstool Flyers, an extremely popular Instagram account on UD’s campus that is affiliated with Barstool Sports, asks its followers if there should be a “Corona[s] only” party in the South Student Neighborhood. 

An hour later the account announces that there will be a “Coronafest” on Lowes Street. And an hour after that an 11 p.m. start time is announced. 

11 p.m. “Coronafest” begins

Large crowds begin to gather on Lowes. This is a common sight on UD’s campus. More than 2,000 individuals gathered last Saturday when College GameDay visited, according to an email from UD Police Chief Savalas Kidd. Police intervention was unnecessary then. 

Video that was taken at 11:59 p.m. shows that while yards are burgeoning with people, the street is clear.  

March 11 (Wednesday) 

About 12:05 a.m. Students storm Lowes 

Video recorded at 12:05 a.m. shows students blocking the street. At least one individual is standing on top of a car. 

More than 1,000 people were gathered, according to a university statement, which also reported that people in the crowd were throwing bottles and other items. 

Multiple students who Flyer News spoke to said that they didn’t see anyone throwing anything before pepper balls were deployed, but the one injury that was reported was due to a thrown bottle. No one was arrested throughout the night. 

Chief Kidd said in an interview with Flyer News that an order to disperse was announced to the crowd more than 20 times from a PA system in a police vehicle. Multiple students who Flyer News spoke to said that they did not hear an order to disperse. 

He also said officers went door-to-door warning students to disperse. A Lowes resident said her housemate noticed officers doing this but that no one came to her house specifically. 

About 12:12 a.m. Pepper balls deployed 

Police officers shoot pepper balls at the partying students to control the crowd. Kidd said their use was authorized by the UD police street supervisor. 

According to WHIO, “[a] pepper ball is typically a projectile filled with pepper spray, usually launched from a device similar to a pistol.” 

This news was first reported to Flyer News at 12:12 a.m. 

Video sent to Flyer News shows officers shooting the pepper balls at students. 

Students were seen coughing and having difficulty breathing. Some vomited because of the pepper balls. 

12:35 a.m. Flyer News starts live-tweeting what is happening on Lowes 

Videos in the thread garner more than one million total views. Tweets are included in coverage by multiple local, national and international outlets. 

12:45 a.m. Crowd returns 

After briefly thinning out because of the pepper balls, the crowd rallies largely to its original size. 

Here’s a photo that was taken at 12:45 a.m. 

At this point, Flyer News photographer Christian Cubacub begins taking pictures. His photos show that the pepper balls had minimal impact on the crowd’s energy or size. 

Officers didn’t take significant action again until nearly two hours later. Kidd said they used this time to coordinate with city of Dayton and Oakwood police, who also responded to the large crowd of UD students on Lowes. 

2:15 a.m. Police orders crowd to disperse 

Officers with riot shields order students to leave the area, again using a PA system from a police vehicle, and move to clear Lowes, according to a university statement. 

Kidd said that while the crowd had lessened there were still around 1,000 people on Lowes. Cubacub said there were at least 250 people still blocking the street.  

You can hear the announcement that was broadcast to students in this video that was sent to Flyer News at 2:16 a.m. 

2:38 a.m. Lowes is cleared

Officers are stationed throughout Lowes Street to ensure that students remain in their homes. This video was sent at 2:38 a.m.  

Flyer News reached out to Barstool Flyers for a comment. This is their response:

Our opinion is the same as every time the police bring out the shields and helmets. No damage is being done until they come out. When they show up wearing that stuff students get riled up and that’s when the bad things start to happen like bottles being thrown and damage to cars. 

What they should do is keep it contained and if something bad happens then they can intervene. But because of the action they take the entire country thinks it was purely a riot about classes and not just a light hearted gathering since no one had classes to worry about the next day. NY post, ‘Now This,’ Fox News all had the word riot in the title and that’s only because the cops came out in ‘riot’ gear.

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