A group of about six men caused a disturbance at A-One Pizza on Broadway before chasing an employee outside and attacking him in Gourmet Heaven early Friday morning, witnesses said.
Customers at A-One said they had seen the group of men arguing in the restaurant earlier in the night, before they left A-One and went into Gourmet Heaven. Though witnesses said the incident caused quite a stir, they said nobody appeared to be seriously injured in the altercation, and students said they were not more concerned about the safety of the neighborhood at night.
Police officers arrived on the scene in response to a 911 call, but the Yale Police Department and New Haven Police Department declined to comment on the incident over the weekend.
Andrew Mangino ’09 said he was walking to Gourmet Heaven just after 2:00 a.m. when he saw approximately six men kicking and beating someone outside the store. The A-One employee ran into Gourmet Heaven, pursued by one of the attackers, who punched the employee three times, Mangino said.
“I saw one guy with a bottle and one with what could have been a knife,” he said. “[The A-One employee] looked as scared as ever … and the fact that he wasn’t fighting back is what made me call 911.”
Mangino is a staff reporter for the News.
Bram Wayman ’09, who walked into Gourmet Heaven ahead of Mangino, said he was in the back of the store when the A-One employee ran in, so he was not aware that one of the attackers had also run to continue punching the employee. Wayman said the employee was asking people to call the police, and he stayed with the victim until the police arrived.
As the police officers arrived in response to his 911 call, Mangino said, the attackers drove off north on Broadway.
Despite being hit, the A-One employee was not severely injured, the two witnesses and another A-One employee said.
Students dining at A-One that night said the men were causing a disturbance by arguing amongst themselves and trying to provoke students before becoming physically violent.
Caitlin Drake ’09 said when she and her friends arrived, a group of men was arguing by the takeout counter but that they stopped temporarily to let her pass.
“They were already starting to verbally argue, and I said, ‘Excuse me,’ and they stopped and let me go through,” she said. “Once they got all my friends in, they started fighting again.”
Drake said the arguing continued to escalate for a few minutes before the men left. But the men soon returned, she said, and at least two of them began throwing punches while the rest of the group looked on.
She said because she and her friends moved towards the back of the restaurant, they were not able to see the situation clearly or how it ended. She also said she did not know an A-One employee was involved.
“Once it got really bad, and they started to throw punches, people were either rubbernecking or moving into the corner,” she said. “Me and my friends were sitting at a table in the middle, and then we got up and moved to a corner.”
Sarah Graham ’07 said when she and her friends arrived at A-One earlier that night, the men were not yet arguing. But she said that when she walked in, a couple of the men made inappropriate comments to her, and one of her friends asked the men to leave her alone as they went to sit in the back.
She said all of the men stopped, but that one of the men became upset over the comment.
“Most of the men were trying to hold him back, and one of them came to apologize,” Graham said. “There was never any physical confrontation between the people I came with and the other guys, [but] something happened between the guy who was agitated and one of the workers.”
She said she could not really see what was happening by the counter but that there was an argument that became increasingly heated over five to 10 minutes.
Graham said that though the incident was dramatic, it did not make her feel any less safe.
“I don’t think it would really change my views on going there late at night as long as I’m with friends and there are enough people around,” she said. “I think as a senior I’m aware that these things can happen, [and] this certainly hasn’t cast a negative light on the business, but it has raised my level of awareness and my feeling that I should be cautious.”
Similarly, Drake said she never felt unsafe during the incident because the men never tried to attack any of the students.
Celal Yilmaz, who works at A-One but was not at the restaurant during the attack, said he was not worried about the men returning because they were caught by the police.