A 17-year-old lifeguard was stabbed and beaten with a stick after asking a group to stop drinking and smoking July 4 at a park in Worcester, Massachusetts, officials told WCVB-TV.
Investigating officers told the station the group near the Bell Pond beach in Bell Hill Park was told they had to stop drinking and smoking, or they would be asked to leave.
Several members of the group left without incident, but one person was verbally aggressive and threatening,” police said in a statement, WCVB reported. “This male left the park but came back later with a small group and attacked the victim.”
Police told the station the lifeguard was hit with a stick and stabbed around 6:30 p.m. and that he was resting at home after suffering injuries that were not life-threatening.
Robert Antonelli Jr., assistant commissioner of the Worcester Parks & Recreation Department, told WCVB the lifeguard — who was brand-new to the job, having completed a certification course only a month ago — was following standard procedure that’s been in place for 25 years without an incident resembling Sunday’s attack.
“We’re not happy,” Antonelli added to the station. “As a city, as a community, what happened here was uncalled for. It’s a simple request. It’s a simple item, and they took it too far. We’re not going to stand for it.”
Police arrested 22-year-old Celestine Bigirimana after a short chase, WCVB said, adding that he faces charges including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, trespassing, resisting arrest, and possession of an open container of alcohol.
Other officers saw three males coming out of the woods and entering East Park, and they were detained and later arrested in connection with the attack, the station said.
Melquan Jefferson, 23; Mohamed Abdullahi, 19; and a 17-year-old face charges including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and disturbing the peace, WCVB reported.
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Antonelli said Worcester police normally make rounds at city beaches and he is now having discussions with the department as to whether the beaches should have an increased police presence. The two sides will also reevaluate whether lifeguards should still be responsible for monitoring alcohol consumption or misbehavior on the beach.
City officials have contacted other Worcester lifeguards to offer assistance.
“We’re going to do the best we can to make sure that they feel comfortable coming to work each and every day,” Antonelli told WCVB.
The Bell Pond beach was closed Monday in the wake of the attack, the station said. Antonelli told WCVB the city was planning to reopen the beach at noon Tuesday.
The Associated Press said in a Tuesday story that police are stepping up patrols at the city’s parks and swimming areas following the incident.
Author : Dave Urbanski