SALEM — The sounds of breaking glass shattered the quiet neighborhood of Independence Drive just before midnight Tuesday. Then came the sounds of an escalating fight and finally a car peeling out before flashing blue lights and police sirens punctured the silence to which residents are accustomed.
The car was packed with seven young residents, one of them bleeding heavily from stab wounds to his neck, back and stomach.
Police arrived to find Michael Peters, 20, standing on the front lawn of his home, the front door and windows shattered, a kitchen knife in his hands.
The incident likely stemmed from a conflict between Peters and one of the suspects, Shane Delandy, 20 — and it likely involved drugs, according to Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten.
"We believe Mr. Peters, the alleged victim, was making statements on Facebook and other social media about Delandy dealing drugs, calling him a rat," Patten said. "We believe the initial issue was between Delandy and Peters. Delandy rounded up some friends and headed to Peters' home."
It could be part of an alarming trend in this border town of some 28,000 residents, home to a significant commercial corridor, with easy interstate access and just across the state line from the much larger cities of Methuen and Haverhill.
"We are seeing an escalation in the drug trade in Salem and with that comes violence," Patten said. "While stabbings and home invasions aren't typically occurring, it's not unexpected. We're trending that way, toward more violent crime."
The results of the incident Tuesday night are this: five young residents facing charges ranging from criminal mischief to attempt to commit second-degree assault, Salem detectives stretched ever thinner responding to more drug-related crimes and residents uneasy with the changes in their community.
Two suspects — Delandy and Alan Frias, 20, were taken into custody yesterday. Police expected to pick up three other residents — Mike Fantasia, 21, Rui Conde, 26, and Tiana Delandy, 24 — last night on warrants for charges from the incident, Patten said.