One of the busiest corners of Boston – bustling with tourists, college students, and office workers – became a scene of commotion, crime, and confusion Wednesday when four men were stabbed just after lunchtime across from the Omni Parker House hotel.
Authorities said tensions stemming from a murder trial at the nearby Suffolk Superior Court spilled onto the sidewalk near the intersection of Tremont and Beacon streets, where knives were drawn at about 1:45 p.m. Police said no arrests have been made.
Three of those stabbed were listed as stable Wednesday evening while a fourth was in critical condition. Police said no arrests had been made, and all victims were expected to survive. One victim was found 2 miles away near Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street. Police said that victim was being driven to the hospital by a friend when the friend dropped him off.
Police said that the victims are all men in their early 20s. The Police Department does not usually release the names of surviving crime victims.
Jessica Reyes, a 20-year-old Suffolk University student, said she saw two of the victims while she was riding in a car on Tremont Street. One was on a stretcher, and bleeding heavily from his lap. The other, Reyes said, was walking toward an ambulance and bleeding from his left side.
“He was kind of limping,” Reyes said. “He couldn’t walk that well. He looked really dazed, like he wasn’t really there.”
People with knowledge of the stabbings, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said at least some of those involved are connected to the trial of two men accused in the fatal shooting of Toneika Jones, a 24-year-old mother of four, in Dorchester in May 2010.
The defendants — Kadeem Foreman and Terrell Rainey, both 22 — are charged with first-degree murder in Jones’s slaying and face related charges in the nonfatal shooting of a man during the same incident.
Jury selection in the case began Wednesday and is scheduled to continue Thursday morning.
The altercation that led to the stabbings occurred at lunchtime outside the courthouse and did not disrupt the proceedings inside, according to people familiar with the matter.
Wednesday’s fight is not without precedent in Suffolk County, where tensions sometimes erupt between defendants’ and victims’ relatives — and even witnesses — during murder trials.
In February, a man who later said he was a cousin of one of the victims of a quadruple slaying in Mattapan interrupted the testimony of a key prosecution witness, calling him a “rat bastard” before being thrown out of Suffolk Superior Court.
The spectator was arrested and later said he was speaking out of anger toward the witness, Kimani Washington, who admitted to taking part in the robbery before the killings.
Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said in an e-mail that prosecutors will not identify the case the stabbings on Wednesday were tied to, “both to protect the investigation in its early stages and so as not to disrupt any of the proceedings currently ongoing at the courthouse.”
Blood spattered the sidewalk across from historic King’s Chapel after the stabbings, drawing onlookers with cameras, lawmakers from the State House, and downtown lawyers to the area, which was cordoned off with yellow police tape.
Geoff Michael, an official at King’s Chapel, was greeting tourists to the chapel when he said he heard screaming outside and ran to the street to see police cars racing by.
He said several tourists told him that they had seen “kids fighting” on the street.
Reyes, the Suffolk student, said she was shocked to come upon such violence in the middle of the day.
“I couldn’t believe that I actually saw something that close to my face,” she said.
She said bystanders on the street also were also stunned.
“They all had their mouths dropped,” Reyes said.