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Cambridge father who allegedly pulled knife on jogger to enforce social distancing arrested

A father walking with two young children who allegedly pulled a knife on an approaching jogger, ordering the runner to cross the street apparently to enforce social distancing requirements last week was arrested on an assault charge Thursday, according to Cambridge police.

Michael Nichols, 43, of Cambridge, was placed under arrest Thursday afternoon after a warrant was issued as a result of an investigation into the incident. He will be charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, said Jeremy Warnick, a department spokesman.

Police said the incident allegedly took place at 5:17 p.m. on April 20 as the jogger was running north on the Putnam Avenue sidewalk toward Massachusetts Avenue while Nichols and the children were approaching on the same sidewalk.


The jogger later told police he was preparing to cross the street to comply with social distancing standards and was about 40 feet away from the trio when the father pulled out a knife and issued the order to him, according to a police report.

“Get the [expletive] on the other side of the street,” the father said, according to what the jogger later told police.

The jogger described the knife as a silver pocket knife, police said.

After seeing the knife in the hand of the father, the jogger crossed the street and called police while standing near Magee Street, police wrote in their report.

Responding officers found a man walking with two children and a dog who matched the description provided by the jogger, police said, but decided to let him take the children home before talking with him about the incident.

“They allowed [the father] to walk the children home because they were becoming upset,” police wrote. The father was then interviewed by police.

The incident was first reported by the Cambridge Chronicle.

“The [father] stated that [he] recalled telling someone to cross the street in order to keep distance from [his] family, but [he] denied pulling out a knife,” police wrote. The father “consented to a pat search, but no weapon was found.”


Police searched the sidewalk between the point of confrontation and where they encountered Nichols and reported finding a knife atop a yard waste paper bag on Dodge Street. The knife had a 4-inch blade and a 5-inch handle, police said.

John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.