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Ave Maria University Investigating Weekend Town Center Incident

Ave Maria University President Jim Towey said the university will not tolerate conduct by students that is disrespectful toward the police as the school begins an investigation into an unruly incident overnight Saturday in which two AMU students were arrested.

"As a Catholic institution, Ave Maria holds its students to the highest standards," Mr. Towey's statement said. "Students whose off-campus behavior on Saturday night fell short of these standards will face disciplinary action at the conclusion of the University investigation that is underway."

"We apologize to the members of the University community as well as the community at large for the bad example given."

Collier County sheriff deputies responding to the incident said that a large group of students shouted obscenities and insults at police who were attempting to help a 20-year-old woman whom police describe in their statement as "extremely impaired." Several students who were at the scene said they thought the police overreacted and were too aggressive.

The statement from the sheriff's office said that the initial deputy involved, who was working a paid detail in the town center, called back-up when a large crowd, which he described as "unruly," formed when he was attempting to assist the young woman. When more deputies showed up, the report said, the young woman "yelled at them and kicked at them. As a result she was placed in handcuffs for her safety and the safety of those around her." Eventually, the young woman was transported to the hospital and has since been released.

As police worked to disperse the crowd, two students were arrested. William Gates, 21, was charged with obstructing an officer and Thomas Anderson, 20, was charged with resisting arrest without violence. Both were released on bond.

Mr. Gates said in statements to various media outlets that he believes he was "wrongly arrested."

"I hold that I committed no crime and that the use of force was inappropriate and unnecessary."

Two Ave Maria students told the Naples Daily News that they intended to file complaints against the Collier County Sheriff's Office. A statement from the sheriff's department said that as of Monday afternoon, their Office of Professional Responsibility Bureau had not received a complaint about the incident and that "all allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated."

Students say that a cell phone video showing a portion of the incident shows that police were too heavy-handed. The sheriff's office said that they have reviewed the video and that it shows "deputies performed in a manner that ensured the safety of those in the crowd, the residents of the Ave Maria community and the woman who was treated by paramedics."

Earlier in the evening, the deputy on the paid detail reported that he encountered another seriously intoxicated AMU student who he said "was staggering in the middle of Annunciation Circle," holding a cup containing an alcoholic beverage. The deputy said that he drove the student back to his dorm without any incident.

Click here for full statement by AMU President Towey

Click here for full statement by the Collier County Sheriff's Office

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Disclosure: The paid detail mentioned in this article was contracted by The Residences of La Piazza Condominium Association, of which Ave Herald Publisher David Shnaider is president.

 

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