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Monday
Dec092013

Snowball Fight at Univ. of Oregon Could Lead to Criminal Charges

WFTV/ABC News(EUGENE, Ore.) -- Snowball fights can be great fun -- as long as you’re a willing participant.

Students at the University of Oregon may have picked the wrong target when they ambushed two cars that were driving by after a snowstorm, bombarding them with snowballs and buckets full of snow.

One of the drivers turned out to be a University of Oregon professor, Sherwin Simmons, who was captured on video emerging from his car and being pelted with snowballs and a bucket of snow.

As Simmons calmly approached the students, they retreated and started shouting at him and throwing more snowballs.

The whole exchange on Friday was caught on video and it has gone viral on YouTube  with more than two million views. Now the video could be used as evidence against the students if they were to be prosecuted.

“The police department is investigating,” said Joe Mosley, a university spokesman. “They are trying to identify as many of the students that are involved as possible.”

The incident is being now handled by the school’s dean of students, Paul Shang, Mosley said.

Shang did not return calls by ABC News seeking comment. However, Shang issued a statement on the university’s website.

“The behavior exhibited in the video is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on our campus,” Shang said in the statement. “We will use this incident as an opportunity to remind our campus community of the positive values and quality of character that we as a university hold dear.”

The school may take disciplinary action against the students involved, said Kelly McIver, spokesman for the university’s Police Department.

McIver couldn’t identify the driver in the second car nor confirm to ABC News how many students were involved in the incident. But he said they are working with other departments within the school to identify the students seen in the video.

Though the two people attacked on the video are not pressing charges at this time, McIver said that doesn’t necessarily mean that criminal charges couldn’t be filed in the future.

“They can face sanctions -- legal sanctions through law enforcement channels -- and/or they could be disciplined through the university’s code of conduct,” McIver said.

Students had organized a snowball fight near the student center on the same day, McIver said, noting that the snow attack on the drivers “ruined everything.”

Student leaders also lamented the incident.

“While the reprehensible actions of a small number of students and student athletes are very disappointing, this single incident should not be taken as a reflection of the student body at large or our athletes,” Sam Dotters-Katz, president of the university’s student body, said in a statement to ABC News.

“The proper disciplinary actions have been taken and the last thing we would like to see is the poor choices of a small group of students overshadowing the other amazing things happening on our campus,” Dotters-Katz said.

Simmons did not respond to calls by ABC News seeking comment.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio