Thursday, January 05
GREAT BARRINGTON — A Brookside School student allegedly instigated a "gang-related" assault on another student on Tuesday, triggering a fight that drew police from five departments to quell the disturbance, according to a police report.

The report filed after the incident describes an out-of-control fight involving eight student assailants, and efforts by staff members to suppress the altercation until police arrived at the school's academic center.

The student, 17-year-old Aaron K. Spencer of Mount Vernon, N.Y., is described in the report as being the ringleader of a plan to fight with another student, who was kicked and beaten.

Spencer was arraigned yesterday in Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield on four charges. He pleaded not guilty to charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon — a shod foot. Judge Paul Vrabel set bail at $1,500 cash or $15,000 surety. Spencer is scheduled for another hearing today in Southern Berkshire District Court.

In addition, seven juvenile students, whose names were not released because of their ages, were arraigned Tuesday in Berkshire Juvenile Court in Pittsfield on a variety of assault and battery charges.

Two Great Barrington police officers, Victor Zucco and Kris Balestro, were also allegedly targeted by students, but no serious injuries were reported.


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The incident broke out just after 10 a.m.

Police from departments in Great Barrington, Sheffield, Egremont and Stockbridge, and Massachusetts State Police troopers were summoned to assist. Several off-duty officers also responded.

Court documents state that when police arrived, they encountered hostile, combative students who were trying to aggravate a fight in progress. Staff and police were attempting to restrain students, some of whom had to be held down on the floor.

Great Barrington Police are still investigating the case, and more charges may be lodged against those already identified, Officer Kris Balestro said yesterday. He said no more arrests are anticipated at this time.

Spencer had been placed at the Brookside campus of the Hillcrest Educational Center by the Westchester (N.Y.) Department of Social Services, according to court documents. Hillcrest serves students with emotional and behavioral problems at four campuses around the county. The Brookside School serves male students with psychiatric problems.