More than 300 high school students created a "near riot situation" at a Tuesday night following a rivalry basketball game between Plainfield East and Plainfield North.
Plainfield Sgt. Mike Fisher described an out-of-control scene in which chanting students were packed shoulder-to-shoulder inside the restaurant at 12501 S. Route 59, just north of 127th Street, and took over the adjoining parking lot.
"If I had to give a rough guesstimate, I'd say there were at least 150 kids inside," Fisher said. "I couldn't get through to get to the crowd without having to push people aside."
Police took two students into custody on charges of disorderly conduct, which prompted the crowd to break up, he said. One student arrested by Fisher was standing on a restaurant table, "chanting and riling up his side," Fisher said.
"If we hadn't been there, something bad would have happened," he said.
Students have gathered at this particular McDonald's in the past after rivalry games, and police knew the situation could become dangerous Tuesday night when a technical foul during the game prompted students on both sides to start chanting, "Meet at McDonald's," he said.
The foul occurred when a student scored in a slam-dunk play, and "looked like he chest-bumped a North player when he came down," Fisher said. The East student was given a technical foul, he said, but it did little to calm North students who were angered by the play and the fact that their team was beaten 76-48.
Fisher said he and another officer left the game about 20 minutes early in the hope they could control potential problems at the restaurant.
It was to little effect, however. By 9 p.m., he said, the parking lot was full and kids were spilling over on to neighboring property. All eight Plainfield officers working Tuesday night were called to the scene.
Fisher said the has been frustrated with this particular McDonald's, which is corporate owned, because it has been "resistant to taking action" on nights when rival teams face off in sporting events, despite knowing the restaurant is a post-game gathering place for both sides.
The police, for example, have suggested the restaurant close its lobby and only operate the drive-through window on game nights, but have gotten no response from McDonald's corporate officials in Oak Brook. He described the managers as "very passive" in terms of doing anything beyond following corporate rules.
Police have requested McDonald's surveillance camera videotape from a previous post-game gathering, and will ask for the videos from Tuesday night as well, Fisher said.
It's hoped they can use the tapes to persuade corporate officials to take proactive steps to head off future problems and to educate school officials about the post-game problems, he said.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story included an incorrect score for the Plainfield North-Plainfield East game.