A midday altercation Friday in a bustling commercial district in Boston quickly escalated into a serious fight that ended with two young women being stabbed and rushed to city hospitals, police and a witness said.
The melee occurred shortly before 2:30 p.m. on Hereford Street in the Back Bay, between Boylston and Newbury streets and steps from a Boston fire station, Boston police said.
As investigators worked behind him near evidence markers on the blood-stained sidewalk, Police Superintendent Bernard O’Rourke said the victims were two women, ages 18 and 19. He said police were searching for at least two suspects, a male and a female, who fled in opposite directions on foot.
He said one of the victims was in stable condition late Friday afternoon, and the other was “stable, but critical.”
They were taken to Boston Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital, and police said Friday night that the women’s injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Nigel Stone, 18, said he was standing across the street when the fracas broke out. “I saw a fight happening . . . between a girl and another girl,” he said. “There was a boyfriend and another girl also. And the fight starts getting out of hand. The girlfriend, I guess, starts losing, so the boyfriend whips out a knife, stabs the other two girls.”
Police did not indicate who stabbed the women or where they were wounded. They also did not say if the participants had any kind of relationship with each other.
“It just all happened so fast,” Stone added. “A little altercation between two girls turns into a stabbing. I just hope those two [victims] are doing OK.”
O’Rourke said police were reviewing surveillance footage in the area — which is lined with restaurants, clothing stores, and shops — and interviewing witnesses. He said police were also investigating what touched off the fight.
“We have some indication they may have known each other, based on some statements made,” O’Rourke said.
He added that a double stabbing in that section of the Back Bay is highly unusual.
“It’s obviously very unique,” he said. “But again, individuals have altercations for whatever reasons. We’ll try to [determine] the motive behind this. But it’s very, very rare for this area, particularly in midday.”
Police described one suspect as a black male in his 20s with a thin build, about 5 feet 11, wearing a puffy jacket and a blue shirt and sneakers. The second suspect was described as a black female between 18 and 20 with a thin build, about 5 feet 7. She wore a black coat and blue jeans.
Police were also searching for a silver- or gold-colored Infiniti in connection with the case, but it was not immediately clear if it belonged to the suspects.
Several people walking near the crime scene stopped when they noticed the police tape and expressed shock when they learned that two young women had been stabbed.
Leslie Rosenberg, who lives downtown, was grocery shopping in the area and initially thought the crime scene was part of a film shoot. “Oh, God,” she said after she was told her what happened. “People are getting stupider and stupider.”
Councilor Josh Zakim, who represents the Back Bay, said violence in the neighborhood is rare.
“It’s certainly alarming, but it sounds like the police have some good leads,” he said. “They’re reviewing surveillance footage, and I hope they’ll find the perpetrators quickly.”