BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Four people were arrested in connection with a series of fights during and after a high school football game Friday night at Robert E. Rich All-High Stadium in Buffalo, Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Saturday.
Gramaglia said several fights in the stands spread outside the stadium and caused problems for BPS security, school resource officers and police, leading to the decision to end the game. Buffalo Public Schools athletic director Michael House said he decided to stop the game between Bennett and McKinley after halftime, citing a fight between two teenagers in the stands.
“There were a lot of fights outside during the exit,” Gramaglia said. “They started chasing our police officers from the stands, they started throwing things outside the stadium at our police officers who were outside on Mercer Street, it became very chaotic.”
Gramaglia said that following the incidents, BPD arrested and charged two 14-year-olds, a 15-year-old and an adult, and is reviewing possible charges against a 17-year-old. Gramaglia declined to list the specific charges against each individual, saying generally that the charges included “resisting arrest, obstruction and disorderly conduct – what one would expect in a major brawl situation.”
“Our officers endured a lot last night,” Gramaglia said. “I commend them for being able to restore peace and order and evict the people from there. “They spent a lot of resources trying to resolve this last night.”
Gramaglia said four Buffalo counties sent officers to the scene. Gramaglia said assaults and large fights broke out, requiring the use of a Taser and pepper spray to disperse the crowd. The police commissioner also said that some police vehicles suffered punctures.
“It’s a shame that it’s come to this,” Gramaglia said. “You have two high school programs that want to go out and put on a good football game, and you want students to have the opportunity to enjoy a football game and support their team, but this is ridiculous. We have to use a lot of resources to deal with this and that can’t happen.”
Gramaglia said police are in regular contact with BPS Superintendent Tonja M. Williams and will consult closely with district officials about security measures at future games. Just in time for the start of the school year, police have increased their patrol presence around Chippewa Street, Main Street, Central Library and Fountain Plaza, which will continue for the foreseeable future.
Gramaglia said while the department strives to ensure the safety of students and the community, it is asking parents, family members and guardians of children and youth to be proactive.
“You need to talk to your kids,” Gramaglia said. “You have to talk to them about right and wrong…about what they do in school, what they do after school, not about them hanging out downtown. And if you need help, let us know. We want to not only make arrests where we can, but also provide resources and services.”
Gramaglia said disruptive or violent behavior will not be tolerated.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “I want these young people, these high school students, to understand. “We will make arrests if necessary and provide information to the schools, they will also take disciplinary action at the schools. The principal is very, very proactive about this, particularly with her messaging to parents.”
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more about his work here.