A state police helicopter was called to a Penn State tailgate on Saturday after some attendees became rowdy.
The helicopter flew low altitude over tailgaters before the Penn State vs. Ohio State football game. Wind from the chopper kicked up debris, blew over tents and stunned onlookers, The Associated Press reported. Video from the ground showed people ducking for cover as the state trooper helicopter passed overhead.
Earlier, hundreds of people had gotten out of hand, according to the AP. That resulted in a horse-mounted team of state troopers being called to the tailgate. A man allegedly struck a state police horse, and a state trooper suffered a broken wrist while trying to arrest him.
The troopers on the ground were then pulled back "in an effort to de-escalate the situation," Penn State Police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said, the AP reported. The helicopter was then sent in.
"The helicopter made an initial pass at a higher altitude, but (the) loudspeaker could not be … heard," Tarkowski said. "The second pass was lower to ensure people on the ground could hear the order to disperse." Penn State Police helicopters may fly at any altitude that would best accomplish their mission, while keeping safety in mind, Tarkowski said.
Once the wind began spinning tailgate items around, the chopper flew at a higher altitude.
Penn State Police and Public Safety defended its actions. The helicopter "was deployed as another tool to compel the group to disperse and curb dangerous and unruly behavior. Following the use of the helicopter, the dangerous behaviors dissipated," the university said in a statement.
University police took the man who allegedly struck the police horse into custody, Tarkowski said, the AP reported.
Several social media users shared their frustration with Penn State online. Many said the response wasn't necessary.