Six charged in 100-person melee on Deer Street in city

Six people were taken into custody for disorderly conduct late Monday night and an additional person followed suit on Tuesday after authorities say about 100 people engaged in a full-scale brawl on the 500 block of Deer Street in the city of Dunkirk.

According to the city’s police department, the incident broke out around 9:30 p.m. on Monday in the middle of the street there. Upon arrival, officers observed the group allegedly becoming disorderly, with people shouting, making threats and using profanity; some were even trying to get at one another to physically fight, and on a number of occasions succeeded in creating a physical altercation.

“We’ve had some ongoing issues between a couple of the households there on Deer Street for quite some time, probably over the course of the last six to eight weeks. They’ve been battling back and forth, and we’ve been back and forth over there probably a dozen times,” Police Chief David Ortolano told the OBSERVER. “It all just erupted (Monday) night, and a fight started and before our guys knew it, there were 50, 75, upwards of 100 people out in the middle of the street.”

Officers moved from location to location breaking up the fights that took place, and took as many of the alleged combatants into custody as they could. As the group became larger and more hostile, additional police officers were called in from the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

Mutual aid assistance was also provided by numerous area law enforcement agencies, including the Fredonia Police Department, the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, SUNY Fredonia Police Department, New York State Police and the Westfield Police Department.

“We would like to thank all these other agencies for coming out and helping us with this situation,” Ortolano stated. “All of the responding agencies initially came directly to the scene … to provide support at the scene for our officers.”

It took approximately 30 law enforcement officers about three hours to finally quell the disturbance and disperse the groups involved. No injuries were reported in Monday night’s incident.

The six individuals who were arrested for disorderly conduct were locked up at Dunkirk Police headquarters, including: Terry Young Copeland, 26, of 82 Ruggles St.; Latrece Stewart, 24, of 51 E. Fifth St.; Jennifer Mitchell, 33, of 425 Deer St.; Tamika Stewart, 20, of 504 Deer St.; Edward Casey Jr., 20, of 131 Townsend St.; and Kelly Neallard, 36, of 519 Deer St.

All six suspects were being held on Tuesday in the Dunkirk City Jail for arraignment in lieu of bail.

Ortolano indicated he believes the fight was not drug-related and had more to do with an issue between two families on the Deer Street block there.

At about 10 a.m. Tuesday, the dispute in the 500 block of Deer Street began to flare up once again. Officers from the Dunkirk Police Department’s day shift responded to reports of fighting and disorderly people on two occasions, one at 10 a.m. and again around noon.

As a result of this second incident, police arrested Alberta Maxwell-Battle, 32, of 538 Deer St. on charges of disorderly conduct, trespass and second-degree harassment. She was taken to police headquarters and was held for arraignment in Dunkirk City Court.

Police are continuing their investigation into these incidents and what the cause behind them was. Ortolano said he expects more arrests as police identify additional suspects and all the paperwork gets done.

“As the guys sit down and sort through everything and whoever else we can identify that were part of that melee, they will be charged forthcoming,” the police chief concluded. “Great job done by our guys and, once again, we thank all the other agencies responding to assist us. When you have that many people in the middle of a street, it gets lonely when there’s only four of you.”

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