School officials in Haverhill and Methuen continue to investigate a brawl involving 200 students that broke out after a Tuesday night basketball game in Haverhill, and say disciplinary action against some students will be forthcoming.
A so-called “Twitter war” preceded fights that broke out after the Methuen-Haverhill boys’ basketball game, resulting in seven arrests.
James Scully, Haverhill’s superintendent of schools, said he thinks the major troublemakers from Haverhill High have been identified and will face discipline as outlined in the student handbook.
“They will be dealt with, and it won’t be easy for them,” he said.
Scully said he and athletic director Tom O’Brien were in the crowd outside the school at the front of the gym while fights were erupting on the opposite side of the building.
“The police acted with great restraint. considering the way they were abused,” he said.
Scully said the approximately 600 people who attended the basketball game were generally well behaved, with the exception of a few students who taunted one another, and one of the students who kept up the taunting despite police warnings was eventually arrested.
Judith Scannell, Methuen’s school superintendent, said the district is still investigating the conduct of its students.
“We’re saddened and take it very seriously when something like this happens, with all the great things going on at Methuen High,” she said. The district will follow the procedures outlined in the student handbook when it comes to possible disciplinary proceedings, she added.
Scannell said she was not aware until recently that there may have also been incidents at a Feb. 16 hockey game. “We’ve since heard of some texts and tweets being exchanged between students, but we didn’t know about them before the latest incident,” she said.
The schools are not scheduled to meet again this winter in either hockey or basketball, and school officials say they will complete investigations before they determine what might need to be done in the future.
Those arrested included Drazelle Fernald, 18, of Haverhill, charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a shod foot, Haverhill police said. Three from Methuen, Angel Geigel, 17; Marissa Shaw, 18; and Steven Dileo, 18, were charged with disorderly conduct, said Haverhill police. Geigel was also charged with resisting arrest.
Three 16-year-old boys, two from Methuen and one from Haverhill, were also arrested. All those charged, except for Fernald, will be allowed to enter the Essex County district attorney’s Youthful Diversion Program, which could leave them without a police record if they meet the program’s requirements.
Fernald has already been arraigned on the assault charge and has been warned that she faces up to 60 days in jail without bail if she gets into any trouble.
Students at both high schools issued warnings and threats via Twitter after several reported incidents involving students from both schools at the hockey game on Feb. 16. School officials and Haverhill police said they were ready for the possibility of fighting after Haverhill’s hard-fought 65-58 basketball win on Tuesday.
“We do monitor social media sites, but in this case we were tipped off by a school resource officer that there could be trouble,” said Lieutenant Robert Pistone of the Haverhill police.
Methuen fans were allowed to leave Haverhill High first at the end of the game to try to avoid any fighting, Pistone said. Still, six Haverhill police officers on duty in Haverhill High’s front parking lot after the game faced a challenge when fights broke out shortly after 9 p.m.
The officers called for backup and tried using verbal commands to disperse the group, but the group only began to break up after officers began arresting the most aggressive of the students, Pistone said.
He said the six officers on duty were joined by 10 more Haverhill officers, but help from State Police was needed to quell the disturbance.
“The officers did a great job,” said Pistone. “They were on the scene in a matter of minutes, and they prevented the incident from escalating.”
Rich Fahey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.