Authorities are trying to determine who was driving the sport utility vehicle that struck and killed a young couple out for a stroll in the Back Bay on Saturday, arresting one woman early Tuesday morning but later releasing her without charges.
“I think it’s fair to say that there’s contradictory witness statements,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney. “We are conducting further interviews and analyzing physical evidence.”
Jessica Campbell, 27, and her boyfriend, John Lanzillotti, 28, both of Brookline, were killed Saturday night when a black Ford Explorer ran a red light and hit a Volkswagen Passat at Beacon and Fairfield Streets.
The SUV then rolled over and struck the couple, according to authorities.
A 29-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were in the Ford Explorer, and authorities initially said that the woman — Ghuzlan Alghazali, who, according to state records, does not have a driver’s license — was behind the wheel. She was arrested early Tuesday.
Authorities said Alghazali would be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on two charges of motor vehicle homicide, one charge of negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and one charge of unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
But on Tuesday afternoon, Wark said that Alghazali had been released without being charged and that investigators are doing further canvassing and evidentiary analysis.
“We are approaching this as a criminal investigation,” Wark said.
On Monday, police said they were looking to charge the man in the SUV, Mohamed Alfageeh of Allston, with misleading investigators. Alfageeh allegedly told detectives he was driving at the time of the crash. On Tuesday, Alfageeh had not been charged, and Wark declined to speculate about whether he would be.
A Beacon Street resident who was about 10 feet from the crash Saturday night said she noticed a couple about to cross Beacon Street, looked away briefly, then heard a car speeding down Beacon Street and looked up to see a black SUV strike a car that had just pulled into the intersection from Fairfield Street.
The resident, who did not want to be identified because of the ongoing police investigation, said the SUV “popped up” in the air and rolled at least one and a half times, landing on its roof and striking the couple, stopping only when it hit a parked car. The man hit his head on the curb.
“They didn’t have a chance to react,” she said of the pedestrians.
Another resident, who also asked not to be named because of the investigation, said he was walking down Fairfield Street when the crash occurred, and immediately ran to help. He heard someone shouting not to touch the victims, so he went back to the SUV and said he peered in the driver’s-side door. A woman climbed out about three-quarters of the way. He said he ran to the other side of the vehicle and saw a man crouched in the back seat. The man climbed out the back passenger-side door, the witness said.
The woman who emerged from the SUV was upset and wailing as police questioned her, the witness said.
Speeding has been a big problem at the intersection, he said.
By Tuesday afternoon, a memorial had grown at the curb where Campbell and Lanzillotti were killed. Flowers, Red Sox gear, and letters had been left, beneath pictures of Lanzillotti and Campbell posing together and with family.
“Please know that neither of you were alone,” read one note written by a nurse who ran to the couple after the crash and whispered to them that help was coming. “You may not have been able to see or hear me, but I was praying for you. Our Back Bay neighborhood will forever keep you and your families in our hearts and memories.”
The district attorney’s office said it had let the victims’ families know of the decision to postpone charging anyone in the crash “and assured them that every step we take in this probe is with the intention of seeing justice done for them and their loved ones.”