Nine charged after Ohio State 'ChittFest' party rioting; at least four more may be charged
Nine people have been charged — seven of them with rioting — after multiple vehicles were damaged during the annual "ChittFest" party near Ohio State University's campus last month.
According to a release from Columbus police, additional charges are possible against four other people.
Seven people have been charged with "riot and related offenses" and two people have been charged with receiving stolen property and criminal damaging, according to the release.
Columbus police did not identify the suspects in a news release. In response to a request from The Dispatch, City Attorney Zach Klein's office identified the nine, but provided names only. The Dispatch used Franklin County Municipal Court records to obtain ages and residences, though records for all of those involved were not immediately available through the court.
The nine who have been charged are: Gabriel Glenn, 21, of the Northeast Side; Brandon Soung, 18, of the Northeast Side; Donte Eldredge, 22, of Powell; Ahmed Darwich, 21, of Wadsworth; Emma Franks, 18, of Great Falls, Virginia; Austin Dugger, 23, whose address was not immediately available; Otman Qatifachi, of Hilliard, whose age was not immediately available; Jackson Podraza, no age available, of the Sunbury area, a freshman high jumper with Ohio State University's track team who graduated last year from Big Walnut High School; and Alexander Berman, whose ages and addresses were not immediately available.
Dugger is charged with criminal damaging and Franks is charged with receiving stolen property. The other seven are all charged with rioting and either criminal damaging or criminal mischief. Eldredge and Berman are charged with riot, criminal damaging and criminal mischief.
The charges against all nine are misdemeanors.
According to Ohio State University's online directory, Darwich, Berman and Podraza were the only three of the nine who were listed as students.
In the release, police said they are in the process of "potentially charging" three other people for riot and related offenses and another person for criminal damaging.
The charges stem from "ChittFest," an annual party held on Chittenden Avenue between North High and Summit streets on the day of OSU's spring football game. The party this year, on April 17, drew a crowd estimated at about 1,000 people.
Seven parked cars along the street were damaged after being flipped and jumped on by rioting party-goers.
The party was not anticipated to grow to the number or level of rowdiness that it did, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the situation began getting out of control around 10:45 p.m. on April 17. Columbus police were forced to wait until they had sufficient numbers to go in and control the scene and break the riotous party up around 2 a.m. April 18.
The difference in response to ChittFest and protests Downtown in response to the murder of George Floyd drew criticism from students and others in the community. Columbus policies no longer permit the use of non-lethal force, such as rubber bullets or tear gas, on non-violent protests or riots. Those policies changed in summer 2020, following unrest Downtown and the response to those protests.
Columbus police are working with Ohio State University's Office of Student Life Conduct to identify additional suspects.
Anyone with additional information about those involved should contact Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-TIPS.