As a skirmish outside of Toad’s Place escalated early Sunday morning, a man identified by witnesses as a student at Quinnipiac University punched in the window of Yorkside Pizza before he was apprehended by police at the scene.
The fight originated in a disagreement between a man and a woman on the sidewalk in between Toad’s and Yorkside, according to a group of Quinnipiac students present. When the woman involved slapped the man and pushed him backwards, he stumbled into a group of men who considered his movements provocative and began battering him. As the men exchanged blows, one was shoved toward Yorkside, which is when students and Yorkside employees interviewed said a shirtless man punched in the front window of the restaurant. Four Quinnipiac students on the scene identified the man who shattered the window as their friend and a fellow student at Quinnipiac.
When those involved in the fight that led to the shattering of the window were pursued by policemen present, an unidentified man punched one of the cops in the face, which prompted escalating violence that eyewitnesses called a “brawl.”
As policemen flooded the scene, the fire marshal at Toad’s shut the dance club down, causing students to stampede out of the establishment and out onto the street. Those attempting to enter Toad’s after 12:40 a.m. were told by bouncers at the door that the club was “shutting down early.”
New Haven Police Department Assistant Chief Denise Blanchard confirmed Sunday evening that the Yorkside window was broken at approximately 12:35 am. She added that there was “some sort of an interfering incident at the same time” but could not confirm its exact location.
George Koutroumanis, a Yorkside employee who was working when the window was punched in, said it was the result of an “altercation happening outside.”
“The person was apprehended and we have a case number,” Koutroumanis said. “We’re pursuing it. It’s possible that restitution will be offered and we might not press charges.”
He identified the man who shattered the window as a student and attributed his actions to excessive alcohol consumption. Students interviewed on the scene could not identify the man who shattered the window as the same man in a verbal altercation with a female companion.
Blanchard said she did not know additional details — about either the sequence of events or the identity of the man who shattered the window — as reports from the incident had not yet been filed.
NHPD spokesman David Hartman could not be reached for comment Sunday, and other NHPD officials declined to comment. Though Yale Police was on the scene, the club is officially outside its jurisdiction. A Yale Police Department dispatcher told the News Sunday that Yale police were there only “on standby” and that she did not know the details of the fight or its aftermath. Assistant Yale Police Chief Steven Woznyk said “Yale Police had no involvement” in the incident.
A Toad’s employee who declined to be named said a “big brawl” occurred outside the club. Police present declined to comment on the record, with one saying that “a lot of fights” happened in quick succession and another assuring those present that “everything is fine.”
“We were over capacity, and many fights broke out simultaneously,” said a Toad’s employee on the scene, who asked not to be identified.
Koutroumanis said he saw the police use pepper spray to subdue people fighting. Lauren Mezznotte, another employee at Yorkside, told the News that morning that she saw a man who had been sprayed with mace stumble from the dance club to the restaurant, where he punched in the window before being apprehended by the police. She added that she saw the police using tasers on other Toad’s-goers who had been involved in the brawl.
Quinnipiac student Jonathan Horowitz, who was not allowed back in the club after stepping outside to smoke a cigarette, estimated that about “five cops and five kids” were brawling and “throwing each other around.” He described the scene as “way more violent than it needed to be.”
Dwayne Jordan, another Quinnipiac student, said people were stampeding the exit of Toad’s trying to get out when he saw a shirtless man punch in the window of Yorkside.
“The cops threw him on the ground within about 35 seconds,” Jordan added.
Yale College Council President John Gonzalez ’14 said the YCC briefly discussed the incident at a meeting Sunday. Though some YCC reps wanted the council to consider how the Yale administration could “better handle” Toad’s, he said, they did not settle on a definitive plan of action.
Two men unaffiliated with the University were shot at Toad’s Place in March 2011.
Patrick Casey and Diana Li contributed reporting