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Decision comes after student's death

10/23/2004 - Boston Red Sox

BOSTON -- Boston police are giving up the pepper-spray gun that killed a college student during a rowdy Red Sox celebration, switching to a weapon that fires the pellets at a lower velocity.

In a brief news conference outside Fenway Park about an hour before Game 1 of the World Series between the Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, police said pellets fired by the new weapons will make less of an impact than those shot by the guns used earlier this week by officers.

Earlier this week, tens of thousands of fans poured into the streets around the ballpark Wednesday night and early Thursday morning to celebrate the Red Sox's win over the New York Yankees that sent Boston to its first World Series since 1986. Some revelers set small fires, threw bottles at police and vandalized property.

Police officers fired pepper-spray pellets into a crowd, hitting 21-year-old Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove, of East Bridgewater, in the eye. She died later Thursday at a hospital.

An investigation is continuing into Snelgrove's death, which sparked outrage about police tactics and led the mayor and bar owners to reach an agreement on restrictions to try to keep fans from getting out of control.

Bars around Fenway Park agreed to not allow lines to form outside, to keep a closer eye on how much patrons drink and not to allow television stations to film patrons inside -- so that fans aren't getting rowdy playing to the cameras.

Police said Saturday that patrols will be beefed up in the area around Fenway Park during the World Series.

Police wouldn't specify how many officers will be on duty but said it has increased the force by "hundreds," pulling in officers from around the Greater Boston area.