For many in New England, the night of Feb. 5, 2017, will live on as one of the best sports games of all time. When the drama stopped in Houston with the New England Patriots prevailing over the Atlanta Falcons, the action carried over into the streets of Durham without skipping a beat. It was measured that roughly 3,000 people, UNH students included, flocked to Main Street to celebrate. With their excitement high, questionable decisions were made by some of those who attended the celebration that night. Beer bottles were thrown, vulgar chants rang in the air and multiple people were seen climbing buildings, streetlights, trees and even cars.
When the dust settled that night, three vehicles, all parked on Main Street, had been damaged by multiple individuals. With so many people having had taken videos and photos of the incident, it gave law enforcement officials a good lead into identifying possible suspects.
When asked about the origin of the photos and videos, Durham Police Department Deputy Chief Rene Kelley said that the videos and photos “came from a wide range [of sources],” but gave much credit to the students who contributed. When asked about the time frame of the investigation, Kelley said it took longer to identify some, but as a whole, it took approximately two or three weeks.
The ongoing investigation has made substantial progress since the incident, as a total of 15 people have been charged with criminal mischief; all but three of them were UNH students. The following UNH students were taken into custody that night: Garrett Colantino, Cheyenne Collins, Elizabeth Connolly, Sophie Benedetti, Jean Douglas, Nicole Grabe, Malik Carter, Shaan DeJong, Tyler Young, Kaitlin Goulart, Michael DeAngelis and Michael Barbieri. The following non-students were also arrested: Germán Ortiz, William Glynn and Kyla Robinson. Despite the 15 arrests, the investigation is still ongoing.
On Feb. 22, the UNH Police Department posted a video showing three girls who appear to be dancing on top of a car. According to UNH Police Chief Paul Dean, these girls have not yet been identified, but he asks the UNH community to continue to help them in the identification process.
“UNH Police detectives continue to provide support to Durham detectives by using social media to identify individuals responsible for damage in downtown Durham,” Dean said. “We encourage those responsible to contact the Durham Police Department.”
Dean also said that it’s just a matter of time before those in the videos are identified and charged.
According to Deputy Kelley, all 15 individuals charged with criminal mischief “were each bailed on $1,000 Personal Recognizance, which is pretty typical for a charge such as this.”
While discussing this investigation, Kelley recalled the similar celebration of the 2015 Super Bowl when the Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks.
“We have experience from [the 2015 Super Bowl] when the Patriots won a thrilling game against Seattle, so we were basing our operations plan off of that game,” Kelley said. What Kelley and his law enforcement partners didn’t realize was that this time, double the amount of people would be at hand, and some of them would decide to partake in illegal activities. Kelley also said that lessons were certainly learned from this year’s situation.
“We will do things differently the next time we are in a similar situation and will take into account the lessons learned from this this event,” Kelley said.