Riots Erupt In State College

November 10, 2011 Updated Nov 10, 2011 at 9:21 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Riots Erupt In State College

November 10, 2011 Updated Nov 10, 2011 at 9:21 AM EDT

By KEVIN DOLAK, COLLEEN CURRY and DAN HARRIS (@danbharris) ABC NEWS.COM Nov. 10, 2011
PENN STATE, PA ( ABCNEWS.com ) Thousands of enraged Penn State students tore through the streets of State College, Pa., overnight to protest the firing of Joe Paterno after the longtime head football coach was removed from his position effective immediately.

Penn State's board of trustees dismissed the legendary coach despite his statement earlier in the day that he would retire at the end of the season.

The trustees also fired university president Graham Spanier Wednesday night. Both men were booted over their handling of a sex abuse scandal involving young boys and a former assistant football coach.

Amid chants of "We want JoePa," "One more game" and "F*** the media!," rioting students flipped over a television van, knocked a lamppost onto a car, threw toilet tissue and rocks at police and set off fireworks.

Police met the rioting crowds with tear gas as it became clear that the army of officers, who were out in riot gear, were far outnumbered by students. Every local police department in the county contributed officers to the effort to control the crowd, along with state police and the county sheriff's department.

Several students directed their rage at the media by overturning over a satellite van belonging to a local CBS affiliate, breaking its windows and threatening to burn it amid chants.

At least two students were arrested and at least one injury was reported after a girl who was hit in the head with a rock was taken to the hospital.

By 3 a.m. the crowd had mostly dissipated as the cold, rainy conditions in State College likely encouraged many students to return home. A small group of students gathered at the Paterno statue at Beaver Stadium to sing the school's alma mater after the mob disbanded.

Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin tweeted the following late Thursday: "This is a tough time But the outrage we are feeling now is nothing compared to what the victims are going through.keep them in our prayers."

Paterno, 84, announced Wednesday that he was "absolutely devastated" by the scandal and would retire at the end of the season, will not get to leave on his own terms. Penn State's head coach of nearly five decades will not coach another game, according to the trustees.

"Right now, I'm not the football coach, and that's something I have to get used to," Paterno said, according to The Associated Press.

As he spoke, people gathered at Paterno's house and were seen crying. Paterno eventually came out to suggest the students go home and study, and thanked them for their continued support.

"I am disappointed with the board of trustees' decision, but I have to accept it," he said in a statement. "A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed. I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value."

Federal Investigation of Penn State Allegations The end of the line for Paterno and Spanier at Penn State came a few hours after the U.S. Department of Education announced it was launching an investigation into whether university officials mishandled the allegations.

The Education Department is checking to see if the university failed to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the Clery Act), which requires colleges to disclose reported criminal offenses on campus.

"If these allegations of sexual abuse are true, then this is a horrible tragedy for those young boys," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a news release. "If it turns out that some people at the school knew of the abuse and did nothing or covered it up, that makes it even worse. Schools and school officials have a legal and moral responsibility to protect children and young people from violence and abuse."