Massachusetts Citizens for Freedom

Framingham Brawl Hurts Four

May 28, 2003
2 sought in fight outside restaurant
By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff

A smoking break outside a Chinese restaurant and bar turned into a sidewalk brawl late Monday, and police were searching yesterday for two men who allegedly punched one woman, then assaulted four people who came to her aid -- stabbing one man and pushing another through a plate glass window.

The suspects were drunk and were told to leave Sampan, a restaurant and bar in downtown Framingham, police said. But they lingered outside and yelled profanities at Melissa Pierce, who had left the bar to smoke. The town implemented a smoking ban for all businesses two weeks ago.

The harassment soon turned violent, and Framingham Police Lieutenant Lou Griffith said the men began punching the 22-year-old Framingham resident.

Patrons quickly spilled out to the sidewalk to help her and the fight erupted into chaos. Before officers arrived around 11:30 p.m., Pierce and another woman, Angela Aiello of Boston, were struck in the head with a metal pipe, police said.

Richard Jervah of Lynn was pushed through a plate glass window across the street at Ahern Insurance Agency, police said, and Arthur Brestovitsky was stabbed in the chest, face, and arm.

''People were running everywhere. It was a mess,'' said William Watson, who works for Sampan and was at the bar Monday night. ''It seemed like half the town was on the street.''

All the victims except Brestovitsky were treated at MetroWest Medical Center. Brestovitsky, of Framingham, was airlifted to Boston Medical Center, where his brother said he was in stable condition yesterday with a punctured lung and stab wounds.

''He was just trying to help out,'' Roman Brestovitsky said. ''There was a scuffle and somebody was assaulting these girls.''

The melee came less than two weeks after Framingham implemented its smoking ban, which requires restaurant and bar patrons to step outside onto the streets or into parking lots if they want to smoke.

Police Chief Steven Carl said he doesn't think the smoking ban will prompt a rise in violence, but conceded the regulation might result in increased neighborhood nuisances.

Business owners have expressed concerns about unsupervised patrons congregating outside.

''It's not good to have people on the sidewalks or in the parking lots smoking where we can't monitor them,'' said Peter Phyllis, owner of the downtown pub Happy Swallow. ''I'm in the process of laying off people, I can't hire anyone to oversee what's going on outside.''

But Bob Cooper, Framingham's health administrator, said the smoking ban played no role in Monday's incident, calling it ''quite a stretch to equate a smoking ban with illegal and violent behavior on the part of patrons.''

Two weeks after New York City implemented its smoking ban in March, a bouncer at a bar on Manhattan's Lower East Side was fatally stabbed during a fight that ensued after he asked two customers to extinguish their cigarettes, police said.

In Framingham, police efforts are focused on finding the two men believed to have started Monday's violence.

One suspect was described as a Hispanic male, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, 170 pounds, wearing a blue hooded pullover and a dark jacket. Police described the other suspect as a white male with a thin build, also about 5 foot 7, with a short haircut or shaved hair, wearing a dark leather jacket.

MetroWest Medical Center said Aiello and Pierce were discharged yesterday, and that Jervah was in good condition.

Jenn Abelson can be reached at

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Massachusetts Citizens for Freedom

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