While most Montauk residents were sleeping, a brawl that bystanders said was a bias crime broke out in the downtown area in the early hours Monday morning. East Hampton Town police made four arrests, the most serious charges being inciting a riot and felony assault.
The battle lasted about half an hour, beginning a little after 3 a.m. The mob numbered about 40, according to witnesses. The fighting took place in an area bounded by Pizza Village, the Shell station, the Point restaurant, and the Memory Motel.
Intermittent police sirens broke the silence of the night. “It began with a particular incident inside the Point restaurant and spilled out into the streets,” Det. Lieut. Christopher Anderson said yesterday. “You have multiple individuals involved and an energized atmosphere.”
Ailish Kane had just gotten off work at Pizza Village. She stepped outside and saw “a guy on the ground, a lot of people running around,” she said on Monday afternoon. She hurried back into the restaurant for safety.
According to multiple witnesses, the battle broke down along ethnic lines, with about 30 newly arrived young male Puerto Rican workers fighting about 10 African-American workers.
“It started in the middle of the street,” said a witness who identified himself only as "Joe" who works at the the Memory Motel, which is across the street from the Point. “It started as a fight. Then it turned into a 30-on-10. It got out of control.”
Town police, who were outnumbered, brought in additional officers, bringing the number of police on the scene to five. Another officer was sent from East Hampton Village.
According to the Memory Motel employee, as soon as the police were able to quell a fight in one part of the street, another would break out a few yards away. Eventually the crowd dispersed and calm was restored.
The four men arrested appeared before East Hampton Town Justice Catherine A. Cahill on Monday afternoon for arraignment. None of them spoke English.
Emmanuel Candelaria, charged with felony assault, causing a riot, and resisting arrest, was the first to stand before Justice Cahill, hands shackled behind his back.
Speaking through an interpreter, he said he was a sous-chef at Wash Out, a new restaurant in Montauk on Flamingo Road across from the firehouse. He gave his address as the Neptune Motel and said he’d been there for a month.
“Where were you before that?” Justice Cahill asked.
“Puerto Rico,” he answered.
“Somebody told you, you could get a job here?”
“Did you call them and tell them you were arrested?”
He did not answer.
Bail was set for Mr. Candelaria at $10,000.
Elvis Ruiz Denzard, who had been injured in the brawl and whose arm was heavily bandaged, was the next to face the court. He gave his address as Tiny Underwood’s Motel and told Justice Cahill he had arrived from Puerto Rico less than three months ago, and that he worked at the Fish Bar.
“How much money do you make in a week?” she asked.
Mr. Denzard spoke softly to the translator, who replied, “Every two weeks, $500, according to how much he works.”
“You’re charged with creating a riot, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail,” Justice Cahill said. She set bail at $500.
Ivan Candelaria stepped forward, accused of riot in the second degree. He told the justice he’d been in Montauk for less than two months, that he was staying at the Neptune Motel, and that he made $300 a week working as a dishwasher at Sloppy Tuna.
Bail was set at $500.
Charley Carrillo Torres came last, charged with criminal possession of a weapon and menacing, “involving a large steel kitchen knife,” the justice noted.
Mr. Torres told the court he was 25 years old, worked as a cab driver, and was staying at the Neptune.
“How long have you been here?”
“Almost two months,” he said through the interpreter.
Bail was set at $500.
“Is that it?” Justice Cahill asked a court officer as the shackled men were led away, adding, “Rough Monday.”
An earlier version of this story identified the Memory Motel employee as Arthur Schneider. The name the employee first gave when interviewed was "Joe Sarris;" he subsequently provided Mr. Schneider's name as his own. Mr. Schneider, in a phone interview Friday, said he had not spoken to the reporter.