By Tim Eberly
Local law enforcement officers snuffed out a large house party Friday night that hosted youths ranging in age from 12 to 19, resulting in the largest number of citations distributed at an under-age social gathering within the last year.
Of the 51 people cited at the party in the 800 block of 10th Street, 33 juveniles received summonses to appear in court on a charge of minor in possession of alcohol. Seventeen people over the age of 18 received summonses on a charge of endangering the welfare of children. Two people one juvenile boy and a 19-year-old male were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
"A party of this magnitude is rare," Havre police Capt. Mike Barthel said today. "You get that many people, it becomes chaos. Anytime you have over 20 citations, that's keeping the officers tied up for a while."
An 18-year-old Havre youth who was charged with obstructing a police officer and endangering the welfare of children was the only person from the party who was arrested and taken to the Hill County Detention Center. The rest were given tickets at the residence.
Six law enforcement officers four from the Havre Police Department and two Hill County sheriff's deputies responded to the party. Three Havre police officers were the first to arrive at the residence at 10:55 p.m.
An unknown number of partiers fled when police arrived, but most of the them were detained. "There were enough officers there to cover all the exits," Barthel said, "and they were able to keep kids from coming out the windows."
Only one beer keg was confiscated, Barthel said, but others may have been disposed of.
The residence belongs to the parents of a 17-year-old boy who was one of those who received a summons, Barthel said. The boy's parents were not at the residence, and it is still unclear whether the parents reside there, Barthel said.
The party-goers were allowed to leave after they received a written citation, said sheriff's deputy Ric Munfrada, who assisted the police on the call. If the ticket recipients were juveniles, they waited until a parent or relative arrived to transport them home, Munfrada said.
"They all get their tickets and that (along) with a parent if the kid is a juvenile allowed them out the door," Munfrada said. "All I know is that there were a ton of kids there. I must have written a dozen tickets."
The man who placed the call to Hill County Sheriff's Office dispatchers reported seeing juveniles urinating in the street in front of the residence, according to sheriff's reports.
Underage gatherings of that size are not usually held within the city limits, Barthel said.
"We've had that many kids but usually (the parties) are out in the country, so by the time we get out there, alot of them are gone," Munfrada said.
Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera said the party may be a bad warning sign of things to come.
"With this kind of crap going on, we're going to be lucky to get through August without somebody getting killed," Szudera said today.