Gunshots fired following Colonials basketball game

Several gunshots were fired outside Guthridge Hall following a mid-game scuffle between fans inside the Smith Center during the GW men’s basketball game against the University of South Florida Saturday.

Dolores Stafford, director of University Police, said a witness alleged that some of the individuals involved in the fight at the Smith Center also were responsible for the gunshots fired outside the residence hall.

I was walking home from the Smith Center and in front of the Newman Center when I heard approximately five loud shots, said Lonnie Giamela, a GW alumnus who graduated last May. It sounded like a car backfiring, but when you hear it repeatedly you know that it isn’t.

Giamela said he and his family kept walking and heard another series of shots. He also said people were running in different directions.

UPD was given descriptions of two vehicles heading in the wrong direction, west on F Street, said Robert Chernak, vice president for Student and Academic Support Services.

The confrontation at the basketball game broke out during the second half in the northwest corner of the Smith Center.

It was a misunderstanding over a seat, said Tony Vecchione, assistant athletic director for Facilities and Operation. They were guests of the players.

It might have been a group from Baltimore and a group from Washington, Chernak said.

To eyewitnesses, it appeared from the beginning of the game that some of the individuals involved in the fight were particularly supportive of junior guard Mike King, who hails from Baltimore. It appeared to eyewitnesses that when the individuals left their seats midway through the second half, King was watching. As the brawl initially broke out, King was shooting two free throws on the west basket and missed both.

Vecchione said he arrived on the scene and UPD quickly dispersed the crowd.

One group was immediately escorted out of the Smith Center, Stafford said. One of the officers saw the group go to the Metro, and the other group stayed and watched the end of the game.

Stafford said each group consisted of four to five people. A group was standing outside Guthridge when several shots were fired at around 10:30 p.m.

A lot of the people there were students, because they used their (GWorld) cards to come into the building, Stafford said.

Stafford said one shot hit a parked vehicle in the windshield and exited through the passenger window.

Chernak said, according to the UPD report, MPD officials at the scene recovered a .38-caliber automatic shell casing.

A couple of guys from the (basketball) team entered (Guthridge), Chernak said. They hadn’t come with the vehicles.

Chernak said the Smith Center is placing additional security in the arena as a result of Saturday’s incident.

Thus far, UPD classified the incident as Destruction of Property.

Chernak said following Saturday night’s incidents a meeting was held with basketball players to clarify that complimentary seats for players are only for immediate family members.

-Matt Berger and David Holt contributed to this report.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.