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Police: Smoke bombs from crowd inflamed Tucson riot

PHOENIX -- An unknown person tossing smoke bombs set off a small riot in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday night, police said Monday.

"The crowd grew in size and then someone in the crowd threw out smoke bombs and that just kind of set things off," said Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor.

About 50 of the 140 of those staged in the event of a conflict were wearing body cameras. Villasenor said the footage is being examined to build a complete story of the riot.

"We'll be look at everything in totality in making our determination," he said. "If we acted inappropriately, we'll hold ourselves accountable."

Villasenor said he felt his officers behaved appropriately, despite video evidence possibly showing an officer shoving a woman who did not appear to be involved in the riot.

"I think that our officers showed tremendous restraint when the crowd was pelting them with bottles and fireworks and cans and so forth," he said.

Police are investigating the shoving incident.

Fifteen people were arrested, nine of which were University of Arizona students.

The riot happened shortly after the school's basketball team fell to Wisconsin in the NCAA Men's National Basketball Tournament.

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About the Author


Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.

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