A skirmish late Saturday night at an event sponsored by the Black Student Union (BSU) in Ladd House resulted in the arrest of a 19-year-old party-crasher, according to police who said attendees were in a state of “pandemonium” when officers arrived.
Ali Ahmed Ali, a Portland resident, was arrested by the Brunswick Police Department (BPD) on four charges, including disorderly conduct for fighting and refusing to submit to arrest or detention.
Police said a second unidentified suspect fled from police and Bowdoin Security. Security’s investigation is ongoing and officers are still working to identify the suspect.
BPD Commander Mark Waltz said Ali allegedly hit one student on the side of the head and tried to strangle a second student. Executive Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols said a total of four students were assailed, but none suffered injuries.
After the event host did not let the party-crashers through the front entrance, Nichols believes they entered Ladd House through a back door and eventually made their way to the basement.
The conflict began when students asked the intruders to leave the house. Security was called after students tried to escort the individuals out of the basement, but the situation escalated and, according to Nichols, the two men allegedly attacked four students before exiting the house. There were no reported injuries.
After arriving on the scene, Bowdoin Security called 911. Waltz said that two BPD officers arrived on the scene and encountered groups of students outside of Ladd House.
Waltz explained that officers on the scene tried to collect witness statements, but no students offered.
Shortly after arriving at Ladd House, BPD officers called in back up, with four more BPD officers and one officer each from the Freeport and Topsham police departments and Sagadahoc and Cumberland County sheriff’s offices arriving at the scene.
“When the police arrived, they [saw] this huge gathering of students outside out on College Street in front of Ladd House in that area. So they called for reinforcements,” said Nichols.
Chief of Police Richard Rizzo said it is not often that the BPD has to call other departments for backup. Rizzo estimated that it happens roughly every two months. Waltz said the last time reinforcement of this size was needed was during a brawl at the sports bar Benchwarmers on Maine Street in the spring of this year.
The incident occurred at the BSU’s annual jersey party. The party was registered through the Office of Residential Life as a chem-free event with an estimated attendance of 100 students.
The BSU board declined to comment.
Nichols said at the time of Security’s arrival, there were more than 100 students at the party, many of whom were invited guests from Bates and Colby and had arrived to the party by bus. According to an email from Associate Director of Residential Education Stephanie Patterson, non-students are permitted to attend events, but students are responsible for their guests’ actions. According to both Nichols and Waltz, Ali and the second suspect were not invited.
“Apparently there was a group that Ali was with that came up from Portland that were all together. We don’t know how they got to the party, [but] it doesn’t sound like they were invited,” Waltz said.
Nichols said Security was unaware that guests would be on campus. When Security is informed about a large number of guests, officers are typically more attentive to the event because the guests are less familiar with the campus.
“This initially was very low profile event. As far as we know, it was chem free and it was a moderate size. So, it wasn’t high on our priority list as a potential problem,” Nichols said. “Let’s say [some guest] doesn’t have the same relationship with Security. Once [people] in a crowd begin to panic or overreact, that has a contagious effect and can really cause more danger.”
“It was just all these cops that we’d never seen before talking to students [and] students we didn’t know from other schools running around not knowing where they were going. So [it was] definitely disorienting and scary,” said Charlotte Johnston ’20.
“The police did see a student of color wearing a jacket similar to the one that the person they were looking for had on. And suddenly they all swarmed him and started talking to him kind of aggressively,” Johnston added.
Nichols said that although incidents like this are mostly isolated, this is the second case this semester where uninvited people attempted to enter on-campus parties. In September, minors not affiliated with Bowdoin attended the annual Epicuria party. The minors stole three bikes after stealing items from a first-year brick earlier in the night. The minors were issued criminal no-trespass orders.
“This group that came from Portland I don’t think was really coming for a great reason. They were probably coming to try to victimize [Bowdoin students]. If people hear of a big group, they’re going to use that as their opportunity to try to sneak in,” Waltz said.
Ali was initially unable to post $900 bail and transferred to Cumberland County jail from which he was subsequently released. Ali is set to appear in court in January.
Emily Cohen contributed to this report.