Student hurt in brawl with Pittsfield residents

A number of Williams students and Pittsfield residents were involved in a brawl on Spring Street, resulting in serious injury to one Williams student on Thursday night.

The fight presents a disturbing development between the Pittsfield group, which generally frequents Canterbury’s on Thursday nights, and Williamstown, which has had problems with the group in the past. The fight also signals an escalation of problems between the College and the Pittsfield residents, who have caused problems at the Log and in Williams dorms, according to Dave Boyer, assistant head of security.

While the number of participants in the brawl varies between accounts, a general consensus among witnesses puts the number at 40 to 50 people. According to the Williamstown Police Department (WPD), however, almost 150 were on Spring Street at the time of the fight.

The fight occurred just below Canterbury’s around 1:10 a.m. The WPD began receiving calls reporting the fight at 1:14 a.m.

As a group of Williams students moved up Spring Street from the Log, they were intercepted by the Pittsfield residents. According to witnesses, the residents were mostly college-aged, although there were a number of older men as well. According to Jake Moore ’04 and Patrick Fitzgerald ’04, about 15 Pittsfield residents were milling about outside Canterbury’s. As the Williams students passed the group, one student was purposely pushed by one of the Pittsfield residents.

“The kid clearly wanted to start a fight,” Fitzgerald said.

The group of Williams students exchanged words with the Pittsfield contingent, at which point Moore said he was punched in the face by a member of the group. The students restrained themselves from retaliating, in part because they were vastly outnumbered.

However, Fitzgerald also said that one of the Pittsfield residents threatened to “shoot you in the face, pretty boy,” prompting the Williams students to start moving towards Route 2.

The initial confrontation lasted only a few moments, as the Williams students continued through the group and towards Route 2. Moore said that the Pittsfield residents continued to hound the group.

Across from Canterbury’s, a separate fight began among a number of Pittsfield people and one Williams student, Michael Ramsburg ’02. Ramsburg received a broken jaw and concussion as a result of the fight and was transported to North Adams Regional Hospital (NARH) by Village Ambulance.

Other students who tried to separate the Pittsfield people from Ramsburg received more minor injuries, including cuts and bruises. At least one other student accompanied Ramsburg to NARH, and was examined and released.

Reports also differ as to whether Security or police squad cars were the first to arrive on the scene after initial calls were placed to both departments. Security supervisor Chuck Roberts was at the Log, along with the WPD. At the time of the fight, the WPD officers were completing an arrest of someone operating a vehicle under the influence. Before responding to the fight, the officers had to “secure the prisoner at the police station,” according to a WPD press release.

Once the officers and Security arrived, however, they found a “chaotic scene?with several clusters of people yelling at one another,” according to the press release. The WPD requested mutual aid to respond, which resulted in the arrival of one Mass. State policeman and three North Adams policemen. Security officer Pete Mazzacco Jr., upon arriving at the scene, discovered Ramsburg unconscious outside the Thai Garden, treated him and called Village Ambulance. Ramsburg was able to identify the person who assaulted him before being transported to the hospital. He was released over the weekend.

While the police did not initially arrest anyone as a result of the fight, charges are pending against two Pittsfield residents. The police could not arrest the two men at the scene because the officers did not witness any physical contact between the two groups.

At press time, the likely charge is a simple misdemeanor charge of assault and battery, said Arthur Parker, WPD chief. If reports about the gun prove true, however, then the misdemeanor becomes a felony charge of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, Parker said.

Reports that one of the Pittsfield residents had a gun have been filed with Security and reported to the WPD.

One Pittsfield man was searched Thursday night for a weapon, but the WPD did not find anything. However, according to the report filed at Security, a student claimed to see “a handgun hitting the ground and sliding across the ground toward a student.”

The fight is not the first incident involving the same Pittsfield residents who were at Canterbury’s on Thursday night. According to Moore, officers told him that the WPD had a number of problems with the group over the summer. One of the men with charges pending already has an extensive criminal record, according to Boyer.

Boyer also said that the College has had a number of incidents this year involving Pittsfield residents entering either the Log or Williams dorms, many times by invitation of a Williams student.

Describing students as “naïve” to the dangers that the group presents, Boyer said Williams students have to be more careful about the groups of people they allow onto college property. While Security has warned Dining Services to make sure to check student identification at the Log, Security is largely powerless to stop a Pittsfield resident from entering if he or she is an invited guest of a Williams student.