College student, 21, dies from head injury

Updated: October 22, 2004, 4:37 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- A college student celebrating the Boston Red Sox's come-from-behind victory over the New York Yankees was killed after a police officer called in to control a rowdy crowd shot her in the eye with what was designed to be a non-lethal projectile.

Snelgrove
Snelgrove

Victoria Snelgrove, a 21-year-old journalism major at Emerson College, was hit by a projectile fired by an officer on crowd-control duty. Snelgrove, of East Bridgewater, died of a head injury at Brigham and Women's Hospital later in the day.

Witnesses said Snelgrove was standing outside the ballpark when a reveler threw a bottle at a mounted police officer. Another officer fired the plastic, pepper-spray filled balls into the crowd, hitting Snelgrove. Officials said the projectiles are not supposed to be aimed at people's faces.

Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said officers were using projectiles "designed to break upon impact, dousing the target with [pepper-like] spray."

"While I firmly and emphatically accept responsibilities for any errors," O'Toole said at a news conference Thursday, "I also condemn in the harshest words possible the actions of the punks [Wednesday] night who turned our city's victory into an opportunity for violence and mindless destruction."

Fifteen other people, including a police officer, suffered minor injuries in Boston's Kenmore Square neighborhood early Thursday, after thousands of baseball fans spilled onto the streets near Fenway Park.

O'Toole and Mayor Thomas Menino pledged to fully investigate the incident. Menino said he will seek cooperation from city colleges, bars in the Fenway Park neighborhood and the Boston Red Sox to help prevent future disturbances.

Snelgrove's father, Rick Snelgrove, expressed outrage and said his daughter did nothing wrong. Standing outside the family home in Bridgewater, he held up a photograph of his smiling daughter.

Kathleen O'Toole
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (back) and police commissioner Kathleen O'Toole have vowed thorough investigations into Victoria Snelgrove's death.

"What happened to her should not happen to any American citizen going to any type of game, no matter what," he said. "She loved the Red Sox. She went in to celebrate with friends. She was a bystander. She was out of the way, but she still got shot. Awful things happen to good people. My daughter was an exceptional person."

Snelgrove transferred to Emerson from Fitchburg State College a year ago and was a junior majoring in broadcast journalism, said her academic adviser, Janet Kolodzy.

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, speaking on WROR FM, said no Red Sox victory is worth such a tragedy.

"True Red Sox fans need to make sure we all grow up in the next several days," Schilling said.

Early Thursday, several small fires were set and numerous fights broke out. Boston police reported eight arrests, mostly for disorderly conduct, though one arrest was for assault and battery on a police officer.

City officials had announced there would be a heavy police presence in Kenmore Square for the history-making victory by the Red Sox, who came back from 3-0 deficit to advance to the World Series.

The city was caught understaffed when riots broke out after the New England Patriots' Super Bowl win Feb. 1, when one person was killed and another critically injured when a vehicle plowed into a crowd of revelers.

Elsewhere Thursday, 29 people were arrested at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst after revelers threw beer cans and flaming toilet paper at police. And at the university's Dartmouth campus, about 2,000 people had to be dispersed by police using stun grenades.

In New Hampshire, police made about 15 disorderly conduct arrests as crowds swarmed the campus of Plymouth State University and surrounding neighborhoods.

The new Boston Police Command Center has been in use as the Red Sox advanced through the playoffs. Inside, police watch views from 50 cameras around the city as they coordinate with several agencies, including State Police, the Boston Fire Department and even some college police forces. It was first used during the Democratic National Convention in July. The cameras were installed on top of the ballpark and other locations.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press