PROVIDENCE — A fight erupted on the Block Island Ferry late Monday night as the boat returned from the island, leaving several people with minor injuries and one passenger with facial injuries who needed to be transported to Rhode Island Hospital.
Videos taken by passengers from the upper deck of the boat and shared on social media showed the Coast Guard approach the ferry from behind in open water. Four Coast Guardsmen quickly boarded the boat, assisted by crew members, and then drew their weapons.
The State Police said troopers were assigned to the ferries throughout the night, and the fight happened on an unscheduled ferry that was added because of overcrowding. Six troopers were added to New Shoreham for the day to assist local police in anticipation of larger crowds at Ballard’s Beach Resort. Many of the passengers were returning on the last ferries to the mainland following a reggae festival on Block Island.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., troopers responded to a disturbance at Ballard’s Beach Resort where they arrested Jacob Dorbor, 30, of Providence on charges of disorderly conduct. Dorbor has been assigned a court date.
Bruce Darelius of Pawtucket described the scene at Ballard’s as “complete chaos.” He recorded one fight on his phone, but said “there were three or four before that.”
“We just wanted to listen to the music,” he said. “I think it was overcrowded. It made it uncomfortable at times . . . [that] could have been one of the main reasons the fight happened.”
He goes to Block Island frequently, he said, and this time the ferry was packed with people.
“I think getting back on the boat was a little scary. People were trying to get on the boat. There were way too many people,” he said. “I never seen a line that long.”
Witnesses told The Boston Globe there were more than a hundred people waiting to get on the ferries at 7:30 p.m. Monday, and many were still in line at 9:55 p.m.
In a Facebook post, Dana Taylor DeVerna said chaos erupted while waiting for the ferry, and they hid after hearing a man had a gun and a knife.
“After getting separated from our friends Taylor and I missed the ferry with them and had to wait for the next one. So we were trying to make best of it,” wrote DeVerna. “Then once we got on a fight broke out right in front of us people yelling he has a gun and knife we had to go find a corner to hide in.”
“We saw coast guard come and bring officers on boat. We were told to shelter in place,” she continued. “Finally got off the boat to dozens of officers.”
According to State Police, the fight on the ferry began at approximately 9:35 p.m. State troopers, officers from the Narragansett, North Kingstown, and South Kingstown police departments responded to a report of a disturbance on the Block Island Ferry as it was returning to the Port of Galilee.
Emergency services and law enforcement boarded the ferry, secured the vessel, and arrested individuals involved.
“Interstate Navigation Acknowledges the poor behavior of several passengers on our departing ferry from Block Island on Monday night,” the company that operates the ferry said in a statement to WPRI-TV. “As per our protocols when anticipating a heavy volume of holiday travel, added security measures were put in place with the assistance of state and local police.
“We thank them and are continuing to work cooperatively with law enforcement to investigate the incident in order to assure safe passage for all our valued customers.”
ABC-TV Channel 6 posted a video that showed three men being led off the ferry in handcuffs and police canines at the port.
On Tuesday, the Block Island Ferry website said high-speed service from Point Judith and Block Island is canceled due to mechanical issues. It said passengers on the high-speed ferry would be accommodated on the traditional ferries. It is unknown if this change is related to Monday’s incident.
Steven Filippi, owner of Ballard’s Beach Resort where the reggae festival was held, said the festival began at noon and ended at 6 p.m. when alcohol sales were stopped.
Filippi said 1,500 to 2,000 people attended the event, which included music, alcoholic drinks, and food.
“We’ve done this five or six years now,” Filippi says. “It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary . . . There weren’t any incidents or anything like that here at Ballard’s.”
“The police department was excellent on the Island,” Filippi says. “They had state police and local police. There were a lot of people here and they did a great job maintaining the crowd.”
Narraganset Fire Department Captain Joe Conroy told the Globe that at 9:48 p.m., Monday, “we responded down to the Port of Galilee where the ferry comes in. We were meeting a ferry with multiple injuries. The responding agencies had six ambulances and four fire engines. After everything got sorted out one patient was transported to Rhode Island Hospital with facial injuries. All the others had minor injuries and declined transport. They were left in the custody of police.”
The Rhode Island State Police said Tuesday seven people have been arraigned in connection with the fight. Michael Carvalho, 26, of Providence; Abdou Njie, 37, of Pawtucket; Trent Manning, 32, of Providence; Deavon Silva, 20, of Pawtucket; and Miguel G. Silva, 36, of Providence were charged with disorderly conduct. Chevron R. Towns, 20, of Providence was charged with weapons other than firearms prohibited. Laurie R. Cassandra, 30, of Providence, was charged with obstructing an officer in the execution of duty.
The suspects were transported to the Wickford Barracks where they were arraigned in front of a justice of the peace, and released with pending Fourth District Court dates, State Police said in the news release.
This story was updated to correct the charge for Chevron R. Towns, 20, of Providence.