Three people have been arrested after allegedly brandishing a gun and striking an officer with a car in a parking lot outside a varsity football game at Methuen High School, authorities said.
One of the individuals was a 19-year-old man from Lawrence, and the others were 17-year-old male teens, including one who attends Methuen High School, police say. They are also searching for a fourth suspect.
The incident began around 2:50 p.m. on Saturday when a witness reported to an officer at the front gate of the football stadium that they had spotted a person with a gun. The officer, who also saw the gun, began to chase the suspect, who climbed into a grey Honda sedan in the parking lot, Methuen police said.
The car then drove off, striking the officer on its way, police said. The officer also said he saw the driver point the gun in his direction before he was hit with the car.
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Other Methuen police officers on site chased after the fleeing car on foot. It travelled down Pleasant View Street and crossed over East Street before crashing on nearby Larchwood Road, according to police.
Four occupants of the car attempted to run away from pursuing police, but three were caught and taken into custody. Police are still searching for the fourth suspect, but say they do not believe they present an active threat to the community.
The ongoing game between Methuen and Lawrence high schools, which was in the second half during the altercation, finished without incident, according to police.
"I’m so grateful for the quick response to this incident by the Methuen Police Department, who were there to help keep everyone attending or taking part in today’s game safe," Methuen Superintendent Brandi Kwong said.
Additional police were present at the Saturday game after an incident at the freshman football game the night before involving Lawrence High School students, authorities said. That incident was handled by the Lawrence Police Department School Resource Officer.
There is a junior varsity game between scheduled between Methuen and Lawrence High School for Monday night. Kwong and Lawrence School Superintendent Cynthia Paris have been in touch about the game, but have not indicated whether there will be any changes.
"I’m grateful for the extraordinary cooperation between our police and school personnel, who went above and beyond to ensure the safety of students, spectators and the community as a whole," Methuen Mayor James Jajuga said.
The officer who was struck by the car was taken to a local hospital for a precautionary evaluation, police said. He suffered bruising and has since been released.
The three suspects have been arrested on alleged charges of assault and battery, among others.