Rock-Throwing Melee Breaks Out After Local Fireworks Show

By: Paul J. Gately Email
By: Paul J. Gately Email
Two officers were injured and one woman was arrested during a rock- and firework-throwing melee involving as many as 400 people that broke out following a local fireworks show.

Ashley Nicole Richards was arrested during the melee. (Jail photo)

WACO (July 5, 2012)—Rocks and large fireworks were thrown at police officers during a melee that broke out after the annual Fourth on the Brazos celebration Wednesday night in downtown Waco.

After the show wrapped up just before 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, a crowd began to form on the east side of the Brazos River, moving from the Suspension Bridge onto Elm Street, police said.

By 11 p.m. as many as 400 people were gathered, throwing fireworks and blocking the street, police said.

“Officers attempted to give them time and space to disburse,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said Thursday, “but the crowd would not leave.”

Officers finally began to move into the area to break up the gathering and the crowd became hostile, Swanton said.

A female officer was punched in the face while trying to move people out of the road and then people in the crowd started throwing rocks at officers and patrol cars, Swanton said.

One officer was struck by a rock and suffered a minor injury, Swanton said.

“Crowd members were also throwing large explosive type fireworks at the officers in attempts to use them as hand-grenades,” Swanton said.

“The type of explosives being thrown were not your typical small firecrackers, but large aerial type ordinance that explode with a very large flash and flame,” he said.

Eventually officers deployed an armored vehicle to clear the streets and as they did members of the crowd pelted the vehicle with bricks and large pieces of concrete, Swanton said.

Officers finally were forced to use “chemical munitions” to disperse the crowd, Swanton said.

It took about 90 minutes to bring things under control and clear the area, Swanton said.

Ashley Nicole Richards, 21, was arrested in connection with the attack on the officer who was punched and was taken to the McLennan County Jail.

She was charged with assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest, online jail records show.

She posted an $8,000 bond and was released Thursday morning.

No other arrests were made, Swanton said, because the rock-throwers could not be identified.


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