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Closing-time 'riot-like situation' outside downtown club ended with five arrests, four cops injured

A meddlesome bouncer from a North End lounge may have sparked what one police officer called a "riot-like situation" outside Umbria Prime and Ascend Nightclub several blocks away early on Sept. 25, police and Ascend managers said today.

Before the brawl outside the Franklin Street EDM nightspot was over, one police officer was sucker punched twice in the head, a police sergeant got a fist to the nose and mouth and two other officers were also injured enough to require a trip to a local ER, police say. Five people, including the bouncer, from the Living Room on Atlantic Avenue, were arrested on various charges, including assault and battery on a police officer and affray.

Police Officer Michael Bulger, testifying this morning before the Boston Licensing Board, said he was about a block away, investigating a possible car break-in around 2 a.m., when he noticed angry people outside Ascend's entrance on Wendell Street.

As he drove over to investigate that, the Living Room bouncer ran up to him and pointed to a group of people among whom, he claimed was somebody who had stolen his girlfriend's phone inside Ascend; the man had rushed over from the Living Room when his girlfriend called him. Then the man went over to the groups and all hell broke loose, as more women joined the scene and they and their male acquaintances began brawling, Bulger said.

Bulger waded in - and said the Living Room bouncer punched him twice in the nose, then fled down Batterymarch. Joined by several Ascend bouncers, Bulger chased him and caught up with him - after the guy slipped and fell. Club bouncers - and two barbacks - then held the man down until Bulger and other officers could cuff him - Ascend managers said.

Meanwhile, other officers arriving on scene found themselves in what Bulger called "a riot-like situation" at one point involving up to 100 people. Sgt. John Doris said he arrived around 2:17 a.m. and that not long after he got punched twice, giving him a split lip and a bloody nose that forced him to the hospital, in part because the bloody nose made it difficult to breathe.

Another officer had just arrested a screaming woman and put her in the back of a cruiser when a pal opened the door and let the handcuffed woman get out, police said. She was put back in the cruiser and he was put under arrest himself, they added.

Sgt. William Gallagher said it took all of downtown's uniformed officers, with help from officers from Charlestown and South Boston, to quell the violence. Although Bulger returned to work to write a report on the incident, he said the emergency-room doctor told him his hematoma was serious enough to warrant taking a couple days off work.

Club managers, busy at the time with escorting patrons out at closing, said they discovered the brewing brawl when it was still just verbal jousting. Roughly six of the club's 16 bouncers had already converged on Wendell and seemed to be calming things down when the Living Room bouncer arrived, club manager Joseph DePietro said.

But, then, after talking to Bulger, the bouncer went over to the group he accused of knowing about his girlfriend's phone and started stirring things up, he said. As the yelling intensified, DePietro said he kept his eye on one guy in that group who was being "very, very quiet," because in his experience he's found that "those are the people you watch for, they're just waiting to do something." Sure enough, he said, a moment or two later, "they started attacking each other."

Through his questioning, Ascend attorney Bill Kelly attempted to show that Ascend staffers did everything they could to quell the incident - even to the point of running after the guy accused of punching Bulger - and that the man who spurred the fighting was never inside the club. The licensing board decides Thursday whether to accept that argument or whether it shares any blame for it.

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Comments

Is this a normal Saturday night outside the Boston bars?

Isn't that scary, to be be an officer in a crowd that's doing those things?

Does that lead to people getting shot by police?

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In response to your third question, I think in other jurisdictions, where cops do not get the same level of training that they get here, the answer is possibly/probably.

Reading this whole thing thought just brought me back to 1997 and 2000 ("you hit a cop; you're going in." and the Bosstones Riot on Broad Street, respectively - yes, I know it wasn't Broad St., but absolutely close enough!).

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"Isn't that scary, to be be an officer in a crowd that's doing those things?"

oh relax. your delusions of drunk barhoppers being eager to cause harm to police are completely disconnected from reality...

sure, if we were talking an actual riot, i'd understand the fear. but this wasn't that.

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Mob mentality is no joke and add booze a knife or gun and things go down hill fast. Thankfully this didn't happen here - but similar has happened down the street in chinatown and theater district. Heck wasn't there a football player who executed four - scratch that- three over a perceived slight at a boston nightclub? So cops never know what they are getting into so yes, it is scary.

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I think I misread it - the bouncer was from another venue/lounge in the North End (Living Room) and ended up causing a fight at Umbria. If only they could have provided names :)

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Sorry if the post wasn't clear. Woman loses phone at Ascend (the club part of Umbria Prime), thinks another woman stole it, calls her boyfriend, who is a bouncer at the Living Room, several blocks away, and he rushes over and, well, the rest is history.

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I recall being an enthusiastic young officer and rushing into a similar situation when a senior officer (Korean War vet) pulled me back and we watched it from a safe distance. We didn't let anyone get too badly hurt and eventually made the necessary arrests but we both went home unscathed. Kind of like an NHL fight where the linesmen stand back until someone falls. Agree or disagree but most of these people who engage in bar fights deserve what they get, save for the occasional innocent victim caught in the middle. The bouncer sounds like a piece of work and should be barred from working in the industry.

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Yep. Even if it was a gay bashing - all the better, right?

That's the problem with your little theory - it isn't always a fair fight or even a fight. Sometimes it is a beat down.

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Huh?

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Not every situation is the same and this was just one example? Nice making up your own narrative to fit.

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Nice of you to ignore the fact that he was talking about a brawl, not a beatdown or gay bashing, and that they didn't let anyone get seriously hurt. Sorry the facts don't fit the way you want things to fit your narrative, skippy.

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Exactly, how?

How many times have we heard "they were all fighting" from idiot school administrators, cops, etc. when the reality was "one person was being brutalized by many".

I suppose you are clairvoyant.

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"We didn't let anyone get too badly hurt"

"save for the occasional innocent victim caught in the middle"

what do we pay you for? answer: to prevent citizens from getting hurt. your job is to prevent citizens from getting hurt. not "too badly hurt" but rather "getting hurt".

of course the knuckleheads shouldn't have fought the police in this instance...

but your comments are part of the reason why citizens despise the police these days. yes, even the law abiding ones-- even some of us who smile and wave at you, or say hello when we walk past every day.

to put it simply: you're not there for us when we need it (such as when letting a bar fight continue, which did not happen whatsoever in this instance as far as i can tell), and you're angling against us when we definitely don't need it.

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Police have no legal obligation to risk themselves to protect you. Don't like it? Cry about it. Your issue with with the courts, not an another individual who has every right to do what is necessary to make it home safely to their own family.

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what do we pay you for? answer: to prevent citizens from getting hurt. your job is to prevent citizens from getting hurt. not "too badly hurt" but rather "getting hurt".

And here I thought the officers were part of the "Enforce the Laws" arm of our system.

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... but don't force all the patrons out of the club when they're at the height of intoxication!

Letting people dance and drink non-alcoholic beverages for an hour or so would go a long way towards defusing situations like this. Safer on the sidewalks and safer on the highways.

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So Mass legislators would not approve.

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