Student's fatal shooting shadows World Series

Police bullet struck woman, 21, as crowds celebrated pennant

October 23, 2004|By Elizabeth Mehren | Elizabeth Mehren,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BOSTON - The fatal shooting by Boston police of a 21-year-old college student has added a somber note to preparations for today's opening game of the World Series at Fenway Park.

Victoria Snelgrove, a junior at Emerson College who dreamed of becoming a television journalist, was struck in the eye about 1:30 a.m. Thursday when police fired supposedly nonlethal projectiles at crowds gathered to celebrate the 10-3 victory of the Red Sox over the New York Yankees.

The incident prompted Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole to issue an apology to Snelgrove's family but also to condemn "in the harshest words possible the actions of the punks who turned our city's victory into an opportunity for violence and mindless destruction."

After meeting yesterday with restaurant and tavern owners in the Fenway Park area, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino backed off a threat to ban liquor sales near the ballpark while the World Series is in progress. But Menino lashed out at students who flooded the streets, labeling them "hoodlums" and demanding, "Where is their responsibility?"

Snelgrove was among an estimated 80,000 ebullient baseball fans who poured into the streets outside the stadium minutes after the team earned its first World Series appearance since 1986. Most of them were young, streaming into the densely populated area from more than a dozen colleges and universities around Boston.

Police in riot gear fired high-pressure pepper spray guns after small segments of the crowd turned disruptive, setting several fires and exploding firecrackers. A trashcan was shoved through a restaurant window, and a car was overturned, police said. Witnesses said bottles were tossed at police on horseback.

In a statement released after Snelgrove's death late Thursday at a Boston hospital, O'Toole said, "This day, which should have been one of celebration for the city of Boston, is heartbreakingly tragic because a young woman was fatally injured."

"The Boston Police Department accepts full responsibility for the death of Victoria Snelgrove, an Emerson student who would have turned 22 next week," O'Toole's statement said.

While Lansdowne Street - where the incident occurred in the shadow of Fenway Park's storied Green Monster - remained roped off with yellow crime-scene tape yesterday, O'Toole said an investigation was under way. The Suffolk County district attorney has launched a separate inquiry.

The shooting was the second incident this year in Boston in which festivities surrounding a sporting event have turned deadly. After the New England Patriots' Super Bowl win in February, a 21-year-old man was run down by a car not far from where Snelgrove was killed.

Menino decided not to invoke an ordinance that permits emergency liquor license restrictions after restaurant and tavern owners near Fenway agreed to limit the number of patrons they would admit while the Series games are in progress. The bar owners also said they would ban live television shots from within their establishments, which Menino and others say attracts attention-seekers and can provoke unruly behavior.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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