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Man says police pellets hit him, 2 others
Pepper pellets struck three people in the face when officers fired the rounds into rambunctious crowds early Thursday after the Sox clinched the American League pennant, according to one of those shot. As of last night, police officials had released information about only one, 21-year-old Victoria Snelgrove, who died after she was hit in the eye.
A pepper pellet tore a dime-sized hole in the cheek of 24-four-year-old Cambridge resident Paul Gately, who said he was taken to Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he saw Snelgrove and another, unidentified man who was shot in the forehead.
"I want to get the word out that those weapons are not as harmless as people think," said Gately, who had been climbing the beams under the Green Monster at Fenway Park when he was shot.
Police offered no explanation yesterday for why they had not disclosed that two other people besides Snelgrove had been hit in the face last week, but said an investigation of the shootings is ongoing.
"Police Commissioner O'Toole has made a commitment to a complete and thorough investigation of this incident with no stone left unturned," department spokesman Lieutenant Kevin Foley said. "Her thoughts and prayers go out to the Snelgrove family and the others hurt in this tragic incident."
Opening night of the World Series on Saturday was much calmer than events following the American League Championship, with four arrests and no reported injuries. Last night, streets around the park were calmer still, with chilly winds and drizzle dampening some of the fervor.
The Baseball Tavern, a bar near Fenway Park, was shut down about 8:30 p.m. for violations that officials did not specify. Hundreds of police officers in riot gear lined the streets around the ballpark after the game for the second night in a row, keeping reveling peaceful.
"It's a little intimidating," said Phil Starsky, a Knoxville, Tenn., resident and Red Sox fan walking down Brookline Avenue after the game. "It's really striking. I've never seen anything like this where I come from."
A small group of protesters on the street before the game drew attention before the game with signs reading, "Don't shoot our kids." The two dozen activists are mounting a campaign to have the type of pepper-pellet guns that killed Snelgrove and injured Gately banned from use.
"That could have been my kid," said one of the protesters, Annie Butler. "Even though they call them 'less-than-lethal weapons,' it's not. They killed someone."
It took 19 stitches to sew up the hole in the flesh above Gately's top lip. He and his sister had watched the game at a bar near the ballpark, and after the Sox pennant victory, he said, they were heading for her car when they got caught up in the raucous celebrations and decided to climb the Green Monster.
"We were just cheering and enjoying ourselves and having a wonderful time," said Katie Gately, 29, a teacher at Harvard/Kent Elementary School in Charlestown.
The next thing they knew, her brother said, a pepper pellet tore into his cheek.
"I just looked and held my face, and there was blood all over my hands," he said. "I had it . . . all over my face and all over my shirt."
The guns continued to snap and pop, and Gately said he descended from near the top of the Monster and approached an officer for help, his hands covered in blood. "Before I knew it, the officer turned around and opened fire on me," he said. Gately pulled up his shirt yesterday to show several purple-and-yellowish welts.
The pepper guns, manufactured by FN Herstal, use a compressed-air system similar to paint-ball guns, to fire powder-filled plastic pellets that combust upon contact, hitting the target with an extract of pepper plants that causes severe, burning pain, as well as wheezing and gagging.
A Boston police officer who is familiar with tactics and nonlethal weapons and who spoke on condition he not be identified, said officers are trained to fire the so-called pepper balls at people's chests so a cloud of pepper powder rise into targets' faces. He said the pepper balls are sometimes inaccurate, curving in flight.
O'Toole has shelved the departments' guns of that type, which were purchased for the Democratic National Convention and had not been used outside training before Wednesday, until an investigation of their use is completed.
The mood at Fenway Park was decidedly less carnival-like during the Sox 6-2 victory last night in Game 2 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fans bundled up in winter jackets, scarves, and Red Sox caps descended on Fenway several hours before the first pitch without much of the whooping and singing, climbing, and stripping of earlier festivities. There were still devoted fans with painted faces and hand-colored "Go Sox" placards that have become familiar accessories in recent weeks. There were a good number of fans whom some might delicately call delegates from the more eccentric quarters of the Red Sox Nation.
Outside the Cask 'N' Flagon yesterday afternoon, 45-year-old Jonathan Robinson of Sunapee, N.H., wore a formal black-and-white tuxedo, which had been tailored for his grandfather in 1967. On his head, he sported a well-worn Ted Williams cap, and on his feet, a pair of Nike Cortez running shoes, circa 1973.
"I'm kind of old school," he said. "I like to think wistfully about the time before the 1950s, where you wouldn't get on a plane without a suit on."
It was his first time at the World Series, and he said he was going to make the best of it. Besides, he said, if his Cortez sneakers get scuffed, he has "seven working pairs."
Down the street, a band of men dressed in Revolutionary War garb and calling themselves the New England Patriots End Zone Militia said they had been sent to Fenway Park by the owner of the Super Bowl champions to "spread some of that Patriots magic." With swords in hand, they spent much of yesterday afternoon entertaining fans waiting in line for tickets.
Bryon Bausk, 47, the apparent leader of the group, said they planned to perform color guard duties at last night's game, a considerable honor, but he was a little disappointed they wouldn't be sounding their muskets as they do after Patriots touchdowns.
"We couldn't get clearance to shoot," Bausk said.
For Gately's part, he watched last night's game in the safety and comfort of his mother's living room. The business-major graduate of Bryant College once pitched at Fenway in a New England college all-star game, but now, he said, the ballpark and its fabled Green Monster have far more anxious memories than nostalgic ones. "I wouldn't feel comfortable on that block," Gately said. But the avid Sox fan said not even a brush with death has soured his enthusiasm for his favorite team.
"Good luck to the Sox," he said. "I don't want this to take away from the Series."
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