LEWISTON — Police said Thursday that a man who was badly beaten two days earlier in a nighttime brawl near Kennedy Park remained in “guarded” condition.
A clash of two groups occurred on Knox Street after teens in a car reportedly drove past the park and shot pellets and BBs at a group gathered there, according to Sun Journal sources who said they witnessed the events. Several members of the group pursued the car to Knox Street, where a melee broke out, the teens reportedly wielding sticks, bats and bricks, Sun Journal sources said.
A local man was critically injured and taken to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery. Police said he continued to cling to life.
“He’s alive,” Lt. David St. Pierre said at a noon news conference Thursday. The name of the victim, who remains in critical condition, was not released.
An investigation into the incident and assault continues, St. Pierre said.
Tuesday night’s brawl was the latest in several recent incidents that have resulted in violence, but none as serious as this one, he said.
“It’s very concerning to us,” he said.
St. Pierre said he didn’t know what had sparked the recent clashes.
“Some of them are as very small as fighting over lighting a cigarette,” he said. “I’m not exactly sure what precipitated this most recent event or the May 17 event we’re investigating as well.”
Asked whether race played a role in Tuesday’s altercation, St. Pierre said: “There were certainly different ethnic origins involved in the fight. I don’t know exactly how many. We get reports or I’ve seen on social media and other outlets that people are saying there are as many as 30 or 40 people from different ethnic backgrounds. I don’t know that to be accurate.”
The police investigation will help determine who was involved and why, he said. But the participants don’t appear to be the same individuals each time nor the same groups of people.
“We’re still working strongly in concert with the Maine State Police,” which is leading the investigation, he said. Detectives from the two agencies are working together to seek out and interview “as many witnesses as possible at this point,” he said.
“I think we’re making some significant strides,” he said.
State police handle investigations when a death has resulted, or may result, from an incident.
A 9 p.m. curfew in the park has been enforced since the altercation.
With the added police patrols, “We’re doing the best we possibly can to make sure that the community is safe,” St. Pierre said. “We want people to feel safe in the environment, whether it’s Kennedy Park or in their own home or walking down any city street on the outskirts.”
St. Pierre said he wouldn’t say anyone in particular is being targeted.
“Keeping peace in the park obviously is one of our priorities right now,” St. Pierre said. “We have hired some additional officers to patrol the park, especially during the evening hours.”
The Lewiston Police Department participates in many outreach programs and events throughout the year such as its Community Resource Team working with mosques to improve relations with the Muslim community, St. Pierre said.
“We attend monthly meetings with area community groups to improve overall relations between the community and police,” he said. “We meet regularly with Fatuma Hussein, who is the director of the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine, and are working on getting more outreach workers into the community.”
He said many officers have actively taken part in “Community Conversations” organized by Nicola Chin of Up with Community.
“We do the best we possibly can,” St. Pierre said.