UMass Amherst student accused of punching, kicking paramedics, police officer

One of the paramedics was diagnosed with a concussion.

The UMass Amherst campus
The UMass Amherst campus. –The Boston Globe, File

A UMass Amherst student was arraigned on multiple assault charges after he allegedly punched and kicked three Amherst paramedics and a Hadley police officer Saturday evening.

Riley Cronin was arraigned on three counts of assault and battery on ambulance personnel and one count of assault and battery on a police officer in Eastern Hampshire District Court Monday morning. He was released on personal recognizance by Judge Patrick Sabbs and is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 18.

Cronin was taken from Hobart Lane in Amherst by ambulance after paramedics received a call at 6:44 p.m. for a man who had fallen and hit his head. The party was what authorities are calling “day drinks,” a “developing phenomenon” at the university, according to Amherst Assistant Fire Chief Lindsay Stromgren.

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It was a routine call, Stromgren said, until about halfway to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. That’s when Cronin, secured in the stretcher by straps similar to a seat belt, freed himself, he said. The paramedic had his back turned, and Cronin allegedly punched him in the back of the head.

The other paramedic, who was driving the vehicle, pulled over and called for help, Stromgren said. Another Amherst ambulance, only a few minutes away, responded. A Hadley police officer also went to the scene.

In about the five minutes that it took the other ambulance to arrive and for the student to be resecured, three paramedics plus the police officer were punched or kicked, according to Stromgren.

The paramedic who took the hit to the back of the head was diagnosed with a concussion, he said. He was sent home and won’t be able to return to work until he is medically cleared by a doctor.

Stromgren said he wasn’t aware of anything that prompted Cronin to lash out; it was “considered a routine call up until that point.”

While a party before 7 p.m. may seem early, Stromgren said the department is dealing more and more with what they call “day drinks.”

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Hobart Lane is home to a large UMass student apartment complex, and this particular party had “hundreds of students,” Stromgren said.

“We do have crazy nights,” he said. “Usually a bigger concern are these day drinks.”

This was the first weekend of the semester, Stromgren said. Between 6 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Monday, the department responded to 63 calls; only 15 were fire, the rest were medical.

One of the other medical calls was for a woman who tried to break a glass beer bottle over her head — she ended up sustaining a cut instead, Stromgren said.

“They get drunk and get stupid,” he said.

At other parties, Stromgren said he’s seen videos on Snapchat of students jumping on tables and breaking them, or throwing beer cans.

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