The officers approached "what appeared to be juveniles about 100 kids," says Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew. The teen-agers instantly knew it was a bust.
"Young people started running into the woods," fleeing the scene, spilling or dropping evidence along the way, Agnew says.
But not all of them escaped. Fifty-one teen-agers have been "interviewed" by the officers, and 16 were scheduled to be arrested this week, Agnew says, as soon as the magistrates and juvenile detention workers finish the paperwork. Police plan to charge the teen-agers with possession of alcohol, underage drinking or littering. Five of them are over 18; 11 are minors. The remaining partygoers hid in the woods and got away.
"Many [of the kids] went to St. Catherine's and St. Christopher's," says Agnew, though he acknowledges that students from other schools may have been there as well.
"Apparently it was a pretty messy scene," Agnew says. The kids had gathered at the home of one student whose parents weren't present the time of the party, he says.
According to Agnew, the owner of the house called the sheriff's office to express anger over the incident and reported that much damage was done to his home. Litter had also been deposited in neighbors' yards.
Officers retrieved 166 beer bottles and cans from the property. All wasn't left behind. Agnew estimates that there must have been nearly eight cases of beer at the scene.
"The behavior is a reflection of the kind of thing we're seeing out here," says Agnew, "especially since the thing with Collegiate four years ago" when a graduation party with alcohol overseen by parents led to the arrest of students and parents. Agnew says his office responds to calls about possible underage drinking about four times a month.
"Looking at the bright side, we caught them early at 8:30. There might have been some damage, but nobody got behind the wheel of a car," he points out. "I prefer the results to peeling kids from a telephone pole." BRANDON WALTERS