The loud yelling from in front of my home sent my husband and I to the window at about 10:15 p.m. Saturday night.
Winfield Avenue, where I live, is a long, quiet no-through road and it was unusual for there to be foot traffic at that time of night, let alone a disturbance of any kind.
Though it was dark, we made out a group of males standing in front of a car at the site of the yelling. Whether by accident or by design, the streetlight they were under was not working and we were not able to make out their faces.
As we watched, the altercation quickly escalated to even more intense yelling, with three men screaming at the fourth man to take his pants off.
With their location toward the end of the no-through road and the intensity of the yelling, my husband quickly became concerned someone was about to be hurt. He yelled out that that we were calling the police. That didn’t interrupt the yelling or the group’s activities and my husband immediately dialed 911.
My husband described the scene to the answering officer and was told that Harrison Police would quickly be on their way.
Minutes after hanging up, the yelling suddenly stopped. We saw three males run fast for a second car that was parked on a small side street half a block away already facing the right direction for a quick getaway. Seconds later, headlights came on and the car squealed away at high speed.
Minutes after that the second car pulled away.
My husband called the police back and reported the group’s departure. We thought that would be the end of the incident, but were mistaken. Fifteen minutes later we received a phone call saying an officer was in our driveway hoping for a statement.
The officer asked my husband to describe what he had witnessed and then asked him to write out his statement on an official form and sign it. The whole process took 20 minutes.
Soon after, two police cars pulled up where the altercation had taken place. Three policemen used the cars’ headlights and hand-held flashlights to search the road. They photographed various spots along the road and appeared to bag several pieces of evidence.
When light came up the next morning, what appeared to be large blood spatters marked the road where the group had been and where the police had taken photographs.
As we found out later, the scene we had witnessed was the site of a brutal beating police say was carried out by three local teenage boys, while two teenage girls witnessed the scene from the waiting car.
The officer who was responding to our call was then flagged down by the victim from his car as the victim was leaving the scene of the assault, at which time the victim was rushed to White Plains Hospital for critical medical care, police say.
Harrison Police Chief, Anthony Marraccini, joined investigating detectives back at HPD later that night and used crime scene investigation procedures and equipment to work through the night to catch the teens they believe were involved in the beating by Sunday morning.
Officers and detectives gathered phone records, individual texts and information from Facebook as background information and, within hours of the attack, had amassed evidence of the way the attack had been planned, set up and carried out.
Two things remain with me most clearly about this incident.
The first is an incredibly strong feeling of confidence and reassurance after witnessing the fast and thorough response of the Harrison Police Department. Not only did they respond to what might have been just a yelling incident quickly and with urgency, they also had the equipment and officers on site rapidly to collect and photograph all necessary evidence.
They exhibited skill and motivation to track down the offenders swiftly, ensuring they had all necessary evidence to file charges and followed through immediately with the arrests.
The second feeling arising from the incident is one of incredible sadness and concern that local teenagers could allegedly instigate that level of pre-mediated violence and that not one of them made a move to prevent it.
These teens spoke about it on phone calls between them, planned how to lure the victim to the scene and then coldly cut down lacrosse sticks to ensure they would do maximum damage, police said.
What motivates a group of teenagers to accept this level of violence and to implement it?
The blood spatters on a peaceful residential street in our town lay witness to the fact that violence and crime can occur everywhere. But we remain incredibly lucky that these incidents remain few and far apart, and that on these occasions we have the skill, dedication and passion of our local police force on our side.
Katherine Frankel, who writes a regular column for Patch, lives within sight of where police believe several teens ambushed a man on Winfield Avenue Satuday night.