Friday, June 14, 2024

The fight reported overnight between Central and Harvard squares was no simple affair, but a street brawl culminated in the sound of gunfire, police said Saturday. The size of the crowd was given as anywhere between 50 to 200 people – though the larger estimate was from police.

Police were alerted to the fight and arrived to 878 Massachusetts Ave. at around 12:20 a.m., finding a scene called in from the Tanjore Indian restaurant. Managers there described a crowd fighting physically as well as verbally, and said one employee had been hit by a bottle, according to Jeremy Warnick, director of communications and media relations for Cambridge police.

Police had already been to Tanjore on Friday night for a noise complaint, Warnick said. This time it took around 20 minutes to clear the fighters from the scene. “At the restaurant and in the surrounding area, officers were able to control the crowd and deescalate the situation,” he said.

What the fight was about was “not clear,” Warnick said. A Tanjore worker agreed that the cause of the fight was not known, even though it seemed to begin – at a smaller scale – in the restaurant late Friday before the fighters met again outside early Saturday.

The size of the fight according to the restaurant worker was less than half the size mentioned by police: Eighty or 90 people, rather than 200. Later, the worker seemed to lower the estimate to 50 to 60 people. “I don’t know where they came from. Like they are fighting randomly,” the worker said.

The sound of gunshots came toward the end of the incident, according to police, with a witness saying someone in a vehicle fired shots into the air and drove away up Bigelow, a one-way street heading northeast from Massachusetts Avenue. 

No shell casings were found at first. Officers returned early Saturday and found two shell casings, Warnick said. 

It was the 13th gunfire incident of the year, but one of the 11 without victims. The previous incident was just five days ago and less than a quarter-mile away in Central Square, when a shooting injured a 34-year-old Cambridge man.