LEWISTON — Two people were hospitalized Thursday night following a brawl on Bartlett Street that witnesses said involved as many as four dozen people wielding a variety of weapons.
One man was taken to Central Maine Medical Center after a group of young people beat him in the street, cracking his head open, witnesses said.
"They had him down on the ground and they were all hitting him with bats," one man said. "One of them had a wooden baseball bat; one of them was swinging an aluminum bat."
The fight was reported shortly after 9:30 p.m.
A woman who lives near the corner of Bartlett and Pine streets, the scene of the fight, said as many as 50 people were in the streets at the height of it. Some were battling, she said. Others were trying to protect their friends.
"It was like a riot out here," she said. "They were carrying bats, they were carrying sticks, they had all kinds of things. I heard one guy had a gun."
Several witnesses said the fight began when a small group of teenagers — perhaps half a dozen — attacked the man and a woman on the sidewalk near the corner.
The woman was knocked unconscious in the melee. The man suffered gashes to his head. When police and rescue crews arrived, he was sitting up against an apartment house, trying to stop the bleeding with a shirt.
"His head was all bashed in," said the woman who witnessed the aftermath of the fight. "The back of it was all opened up."
The names of the victims were not immediately available. Both were taken to CMMC. The woman regained consciousness before she was loaded into an ambulance.
Several witnesses said the group that started the fight fled toward Walnut Street before police arrived. Some said they ran into an apartment house not far from the scene of the brawl.
Police arrived from all over, blocking a section of Bartlett Street and attempting to pin down who was involved in the fight and who might have witnessed it. Early reports were that one combatant was carrying a gun, although it did not appear any shots were fired.
Several police officers searched 119 Bartlett St., at the corner of Walnut Street, looking for the brawlers who had fled. An hour after the fight, no one had been arrested, but police were still interviewing several witnesses and waiting to speak with the injured.
What led to the fight was not immediately clear.
In the minutes following the fracas, a section of Bartlett Street was chaos, with groups of people standing on opposite sides of the street, some yelling back and forth. Crowds gathered on Bartlett Street and around the corner, on Pine.
A woman who lives near the corner said that area of the downtown is often loud, especially on warm nights. She was inside her apartment when the fight got going outside.
"It's always loud out there," she said. "But this was different. This was just crazy."