Windsor police have made an arrest in the wake of a violent, fatal brawl that left a 19-year-old University of Windsor student dead.
Gautham (Kevin) Kugathasan was stabbed to death early Saturday morning.
Two groups of men became involved in an altercation in the Pelissier Street and University Avenue area about 2 a.m. At least 10 people were involved. The incident left Kugathasan dead and five others were wounded.
Monday afternoon, police said they had arrested Ali Mahmoud Ahmed and charged him with possessing a weapon dangerous to the public peace.
Police said the event was not random and that investigators have had little cooperation from witnesses, including friends of Kugathasan.
Investigators wouldn’t comment on whether the fight was gang related.
Police described the scene as “chaotic,” with assaults happening at multiple locations. They wouldn’t say how many assaults were involved.
Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick called it one of the more violent acts and one of the biggest downtown fights he’s seen in 29 years.
Police are still trying to identify all the combatants and so far have seized four weapons.
Despite Windsor police saying this type of violence is not common, the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association wants action to prevent anything similar from happening again.
The chairman of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association has invited the mayor and chief of police to discuss preventing violence in the city's core.
Chair of the DWBIA, Larry Horwitz, wants "an exit strategy" to clear the downtown area when the bars let out.
"If we're going to let our downtown be an entertainment district, then we have to figure out ways of clearing out the streets," he said.
Frederick said he has no problem meeting with Horwitz but said there is already a plan in place to deal with people leaving bars at closing time on weekends; additional officers can be seen patrolling the area:
'Crime stats are certainly not rising.' - Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick
"The plans we have in place have been well established. They're very efficient and for the most part the downtown core is very safe," Frederick said. "Our deployment and our crime stats are certainly not rising. They're not rising in the downtown core."
Frederick said the current plan will be reviewed, though.
Mayor Eddie Francis, who chairs the police services board, doubts the stabbing could have been prevented.
"No exit plan would have prevented this from happening," he said.
The mayor and chief stress that allowing investigators to finish their work will shed light on exactly what happened.
"This event challenges my memory to recall something even remotely similar," Frederick said.
'People spilling out'
Tom Lucier, who owns Phog Lounge said violent confrontations happen routinely on weekends.
"You just have people spilling out of a bar with all this testosterone, and they scramble and fall, and their friends are trying to keep them apart, but you always see that aggression happening downtown, and it doesn't get to nearly the degree that this one got to," he said.
But Lucier said there is already a noticeable police presence downtown when the bars close.
Coun. Fulvio Valentinis, who represents the downtown on council, said people can rest assured that police and the city are taking the latest murder "very seriously."
He said people should wait until the investigation is complete and for responses from police and city officials.
"Not to say people can't make recommendations but I think we need to look at multiple avenues here, whether it's the licensing aspect or whether it's the closing times or whatever," Valentinis said. "Policing is one of those issues and I know the police services board is quite concerned about this."
Francis alleged on Monday that some bars are over-serving patrons. He also said that the BIA should be asking businesses to stop serving "$2 drinks."