Saturday party draws large crowds to Townehouse Apartment complex

Staff Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2018

AMHERST — A hot spot for large gatherings of college-age people in North Amherst in recent years was again at the center of activity Saturday afternoon, despite ongoing police efforts to make the grassy quad areas at Townehouse Apartments less attractive for drinking parties.

Amherst Police responded at 1:34 p.m. to the 50 Meadow St. apartment complex where officers noticed about 100 people in the west quad area that has been fenced off to restrict access, Detective Yvonne Feliciano said.

Using principles of crime prevention through environmental design, both the east and west quads are only accessible through the sliding doors of apartments that enter onto the quads, leading officers to go door-to-door to encourage residents to not let guests into those areas, Feliciano said.

Yet within three hours, with mild temperatures and clear skies, the crowds grew large enough at Townehouse that people began spilling into the street, and by 4:22 p.m. police had to begin breaking up the party.

Despite the fences, Feliciano said several hundred people were in the quads, with many observed scaling the fences and some throwing empty beer cans and bottles.

Though there were no reports of anyone being injured, Feliciano said the gathering was treated as a potentially dangerous situation.

Amherst Police called for assistance from State Police, Hadley Police and University of Massachusetts Police. UMass Transit was advised to divert PVTA buses from the street, which remained in effect until around 7:30 p.m.

Feliciano said the incident remains under investigation and police are examining video footage to identify people who may be facing charges for their roles in the incident.

During the three-day Patriots Day weekend, police responded to 353 calls for service.

The weekend also included an incident where a college-age man intruded into a multi-family home next to the UMass campus.

At 1:55 a.m. Sunday, a Fearing Street resident called police after a man got inside her apartment and woke her up. He fled, but then attempted to get into a neighboring apartment by ramming his shoulder against the door, Feliciano said. The suspect briefly fled but was located with assistance from K-9 Marvin. He was taken into custody.

Minh Duy Nguyen, 19, of Sharon, was arrested on two counts of disturbing the peace and a charge of breaking and entering during the nighttime to commit a felony, Feliciano said.

The alcohol-related incidents began on Friday afternoon, when UMass staged its spring football game and held an associated tailgating event. Police took reports of people walking in the middle of Northampton Road, urinating from the roof of a South Prospect Street building and hanging out on the roof of a Fearing Street home that afternoon.

Early Saturday at 1:15 a.m., police went to a Charles Lane home where a large pile of cardboard was lit on fire. The residents extinguished the blaze and were warned about the potential for being issued nuisance house and noise tickets.

Over the course of the weekend, police made two arrests for people violating the town’s open container bylaw, issued three court summons for open container violations and issued eight warnings for the offense.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.