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The Daily Tar Heel

Tape Might Reveal Identity of Car Flippers

Students flocked to Franklin Street on Thursday night to savor North Carolina's 85-83 victory over Duke, lighting bonfires, rolling trees and singing fight songs. But once the party turned destructive, leaving two damaged cars in its wake, officials said they felt the postgame festivities got out of hand. "People need to have a good time and party but not leave things damaged and put people's lives in danger," said Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones. "The crowd was more intent on doing damage. What's changed in Carolina fans that makes them need to do that?"

Mindy Guadagnino, 26, of Chapel Hill dealt firsthand with the damage. She found her 1997 Honda Accord was vandalized after several people rolled it over. She will find out today the cost of the damage. Guadagnino was watching the game at Top of the Hill and said she didn't think anything about parking there.

"It's a public road," she said. "You shouldn't have to think about where you park your car. I'm not from here -- I didn't know Carolina fans got that obnoxious. You'd think they'd want to take pride in their team and not destroy anything they could get their hands on."

Chapel Hill Police Chief Gregg Jarvies said there were two or three police near the scene, but the crowd prevented officials from getting to the vandals in time.

The chaos Thursday night left many officials wondering what to do differently for future celebrations. "We'll review plans like we do all others and then make a decision as to any changes," Jarvies said.

Jones said the Franklin Street tradition might be at risk. "We don't want it to get to the point that the University and community have to put an end to this longstanding tradition," he said. "At some point, student government should get involved and ensure the tradition is not destructive. Personally, I'd like to see the University sanction bonfires like they do at Duke."

UNC Student Body President Brad Matthews said that working with local officials to regulate celebrations is an idea worth talking about. "We can have a lot of fun without being destructive. Two years of pent-up frustration may have gotten the better of us," he said, referring to the Tar Heels' five consecutive losses to Duke.

Officials said no one was brought in on charges as a result of the celebrations. Chapel Hill police spokeswoman Jane Cousins said police were using videos and photographs to identify those involved in flipping the car. "Channel 5 videotaped, and we taped their tape," she said. "We'll be investigating and hope to make some arrests."

Jarvies said there were 25 police officials on Franklin Street on Thursday night after the game, whereas on a night like Halloween, there are 250 police. He said the reason there were so few police out on Thursday was because the crowd estimate was only 6,000 to 10,000.

Fire Department officials said they are concerned because bonfires were not confined to Franklin Street but made their way to campus and because of the actions of a handful of revelers.

The Fire Department had one fire truck assigned to downtown and 10 firefighters out on Franklin Street on Thursday night. Firefighters did have to step in and put out one of the bonfires because there were some people in the crowd who were trying to catch a car on fire, Jones said.

He also said that in the past, the crowd has policed itself. "Hopefully, Carolina will continue to win, but we'll celebrate safely. No basketball game is worth someone getting killed over."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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