Robbery Thwarted in Kirkland

Ernest A. Pellegrini

An 18-year-old Cambridge man faces possible jail time after he and two minors were arrested for the attempted robbery of a male Harvard affiliate in front of Kirkland House last Tuesday night, police said.

Ernest A. Pellegrini was initially held on $500 bail, but after learning that Pellegrini had been charged with assault and battery in June 2005, Judge George Sprague of Cambridge District Court ordered that Pellegrini remain in custody.

The two minors were released without bail under the condition that they stay away from Harvard and from their co-defendants, according to the Middlesex County district attorney’s spokeswoman, Melissa Sherman.

The charges against the three suspects came after a Harvard affiliate called police to report that masked males had trailed him to the entrance of Kirkland House.

According to Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) spokesman Steven G. Catalano, officers arrived at Kirkland around 10:35 p.m. on Tuesday night in response to a report that three masked males had demanded money from a Harvard affiliate.

“The victim stated that while walking toward the entrance of Kirkland he noticed three males wearing hoods and masks over their faces,” Catalano wrote in an e-mail. “The victim interpreted this behavior as suspicious and tried to avoid the individuals as they approached him from behind.”

The perpetrators then ordered the victim to “give us your money,” according to Catalano.

The victim “immediately swiped into the building” and then called HUPD to report the incident,
according to Catalano.

One of the officers dispatched to the scene found three males who fit the victim’s description on South St. and, after questioning the suspects, arrested all three.

Following protocol, HUPD did not release the name of the victim. Catalano wrote in an e-mail that he could confirm that the victim is a Harvard affiliate, but would not specify whether he was an undergraduate. In order to protect the victim, the Middlesex County district attorney’s office moved to impound the victim’s information, effectively removing it from what would otherwise be public court documents.

Sherman, the district attorney’s spokeswoman, said that all three suspects were arraigned in Cambridge District Court last Wednesday.

Court documents describe Pellegrini as 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 230 pounds. And police records say that he has nine tattoos on his arms, chest, and back.

According to Sherman, Pellegrini is due back in court on Feb. 6, and the two minors are expected back in court on March 15.

One of the minors was also charged with the possession of a BB gun, but police said the gun wasn’t used to commit the crime and was only found by officers after the incident.

Catalano wrote in an e-mail that minors are barred from carrying BB guns without a permit.
HUPD had originally published the names and addresses of the two minors on its online police log but later removed the information late Saturday night.

“Juvenile names are not published in the log,” Catalano wrote in an e-mail. “A clerical mistake was made in this instance.”

Kirkland House Co-Master Verena Conley said that the House’s security guard alerted her as soon as the incident took place.

“The guard was very responsive, and he did call us,” she said. “The police came right away and were able to apprehend the individuals in question. We are in constant contact with the police, who are very forthcoming all the time and are doing the best that they can.”

Conley also said that she thought robberies were rare at Harvard, and suggested that the incident was facilitated by the emptiness of the campus during intersession.

“This is more or less an isolated incident. It’s the first one we’ve had since we’ve been here, and this is our sixth year, so it’s not exactly a daily happening,” she said.

According to Conley, no safety advisory was sent out to the community because the incident occurred during intersession. But, she said, “we had thought that as students come back, and second semester begins, we would send a message to everyone to make sure they’re extra careful.”

“It’s easy to forget...but this is an urban area, and one has to be careful,” Conley said.

Two undergraduates said they saw three individuals outside Kirkland around 10:30 p.m. on the night of the reported robbery attempt.

Evan W. Eachus ’08 said he and his friends walked into Kirkland and saw “three guys in camo with hoods” who began yelling derogatory slurs at Eachus and his friends.

The three males yelled “homo” and “nigger” at the Harvard students, said M. Aidan Kelly ’08, who was with Eachus at the time. Kelly is a Crimson associate magazine editor.

—Staff writer Reed B. Rayman can be reached at rrayman@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Lulu Zhou can be reached at luluzhou@fas.harvard.edu.