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Police pepper spray students after Arizona basketball loss

TUCSON, Arizona--Tucson police shot pepper spray at several hundred fans who took to the streets and threw beer bottles and firecrackers at officers Saturday night after the University of Arizona basketball team's overtime loss to Wisconsin in the NCAA college basketball championship tournament.

Fifteen people were arrested for offenses such as resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly, Tucson police Sgt. Pete Dugan said. Of those, 14 were released, and one was sent to Pima County jail. He said those who advanced on officers were arrested.

No officers or fans were injured in the unrest that lasted more than an hour.

“The majority of the crowd did not respond to the dispersal order and began throwing beer bottles, beer cans and firecrackers at the officers,” Dugan said. “Several of the firecrackers rolled underneath a patrol vehicle that was deployed with the Mobile Field Force Units.”

Dugan said crowds leaving bars and restaurants near the campus filled University Boulevard after the game. They wouldn't leave despite urging through a public address system and social media declaring their gathering an unlawful assembly.

Police brought in cruisers and a unit of officers with batons, helmets and face masks to block the street when people started tossing beer bottles, cans and firecrackers, hitting police vehicles and endangering officers.

Officers fired pepper spray, pepper canisters and pepper balls, which disperse into the air when they hit, Dugan said. No tear gas was used despite some reports.

The disturbance lasted more than an hour until the streets began to empty around 10 p.m.

A witness, David Kitaeff, told The Associated Press that the incident started innocently with people taking photos, but then “people got in cops' faces.” He said fans were throwing drink cans at officers, whom he saw marching down University Boulevard.

Police said no officers were injured and the only damage reported was a street sign that had been knocked over.

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