EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 21, 2013

Basketbrawl: 200 in melee after Methuen-Haverhill game

7 arrested after fans exchange taunts, punches

HAVERHILL — Police said they were ready and waiting for it to happen, and it did.

A brawl involving some 200 Haverhill and Methuen High students broke out Tuesday night following a basketball game, resulting in seven arrests. Police were prepared for some sort of confrontation after a fight broke out between students from both schools at a Saturday hockey game, which was then followed by days of taunting on Twitter.

To discourage any fighting, Methuen High students were allowed to leave the basketball game first and six extra police officers were stationed in Haverhill High’s front parking lot when the game let out about 9 p.m. The officers saw students scuffling in the parking lot behind the school and stepped into break it up, said Haverhill Police Lt. Robert Pistone.

“The officer reported that about 200 kids were out of control,” Pistone said. “Several groups were fighting throughout the crowd.”

According to a police report, the officers were outnumbered, which left them at a “severe disadvantage.” Officers called for back-up and tried using verbal commands to disperse the group, the report said. The group begin to break up only after officers began arresting “the most aggressive” students, Pistone said.

“Then we called the state police for mutual aid,” Pistone said. “Even though things were brought under control, we still needed to have personnel available to deal with other situations throughout the city.”

Pistone said that by having officers on the scene, the situation was brought under control quickly and without anyone suffering serious injury. Of those arrested, five are from Methuen and two are from Haverhill. Three of the seven are juveniles.

Pistone said the school resource officer learned of Saturday’s altercation between Methuen and Haverhill students at the Valley Forum rink and the decision was made to send extra officers to Tuesday’s basketball game. There were no arrests in Saturday’s fight, but several days of taunting and badmouthing on Twitter followed.

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