Harvard police officers stormed Quincy House courtyard last night and apprehended a man who had allegedly attempted to snatch a woman's purse along the Charles River.
According to Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) Sergeant Robert J. Kotowski, the suspect--who is not affiliated with Harvard--approached a couple sitting on a bench by the river and attempted to snatch the purse which was resting on the bench between the victims.
"A man came and snatched her purse and she snatched it back," said one witness, who said she saw the woman shaking after the attack.
Kotowski said after the suspect failed to grab the purse, he started to accost the couple.
The boyfriend then took the purse and ran up Plympton Street to the Quincy House courtyard, where he sought refuge, police said.
During this time, both the woman and security staff at Quincy contacted HUPD, who arrived just after 11:30 p.m. and took the suspect into custody.
The suspect was medium height and build with light hair. Police said he was "borderline homeless."
Police said the woman called the police from an emergency phone.
About half a dozen HUPD officers in cruisers, on mountain bikes and in a police van, partially blocked Plympton Street for nearly 20 minutes as they waited for State Police troopers to arrive since the initial attack took place beside the river, which falls under state jurisdiction.
After questioning the couple, the troopers authorized HUPD to arrest the suspect.
Kotowski said the boyfriend is an employee at Au Bon Pain, but he would not reveal the name of either victim. He said that no one involved was affiliated with Harvard.
The couple refused to comment.
Beginning this semester, Harvard Police implemented a new community relations program which places officers at permanent substations throughout Harvard Yard and the river houses.
However, Kotowski said this program is mainly to improve relations between students and police and did not play a role last night in the police response.
"The response time would have been the same," Kotowski said.