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Police Apprehend Suspected Armed Man in Harvard Square

Police officers patrolled the area around the Garage — a buildng that houses stores and resturants in Harvard Square — after arresting a suspected armed man Tuesday afternoon.
Police officers patrolled the area around the Garage — a buildng that houses stores and resturants in Harvard Square — after arresting a suspected armed man Tuesday afternoon. By Juliet E. Isselbacher
By Juliet E. Isselbacher and Declan J. Knieriem, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: 4:05 p.m. on Aug. 6, 2019

Police arrested a suspected armed man in Harvard Square Tuesday afternoon, approximately 30 minutes after Harvard affiliates received an alert that there was a “potentially armed” individual near JFK and Eliot Streets.

The suspect, a 31-year old man named Sohan Panjrolia, is wanted following a recent homicide in Philadelphia, Penn., according to Cambridge Police Department spokesperson Jeremy Warnick. Panjrolia is a former Harvard Extension School student, who graduated in 2013.

CPD tweeted at 12:45 p.m. that Panjroila had been taken into custody.

“Update: We can confirm that the suspect -- Sohan Panjrolia -- has been taken into custody. #CambMA #HarvardSquare,” the department tweeted.

Both Warnick and Harvard University Police Department Spokesperson Steven G. Catalano confirmed that there were no known injuries relating to the arrest.

In a 3:45 p.m. email to Harvard affiliates, Catalano wrote that no weapons were found on Panjrolia at the time of his arrest. Catalano wrote that Panjrolia was “observed” in the Garage — a building that houses several restaurants and stores — at 12:35 p.m. after which officers took him into custody.

“The suspect was then taken into custody by multiple officers from different agencies subsequently transported to Cambridge Police Department for booking,” Catalano wrote.

At least four police officers tackled Panjrolia inside the Garage after chasing him down JFK Street, according to multiple eyewitnesses. Police officers then dragged Panjrolia outside, where they arrested him.

Brian B. Simonelli, an employee at Anime Zakka – which is housed on the second floor of the Garage — said he had a vantage point of the altercation from the shop.

“We just hear a stampede of people running into the Garage mall. It was a bit of panic, we definitely heard ‘get on the ground,’ police shouting,” he said. “A few people went into the back closet of the shop to take cover.”

“Once he was apprehended, they marched him out,” Simonelli added.

As people evacuated the building during the altercation, Subway manager Arun Vudhathoki and other Subway employees helped bystanders leave through the back of the restaurant.

“We took them from the back door outside in a safe place, so that they are safe,” Vudhathoki said.

Tasty Burger Manager Pablo E. Alvarado said he also witnessed the police chase. He added that the United States Marshal came to the restaurant — located at 4o JFK St. — to look at their footage.

“The U.S. Marshal was here to look at the cameras, but they didn’t look at it because they got what they wanted outside,” Alvarado said.

Harvard first warned affiliates of the assailant at approximately 12:13 p.m. via an alert sent through its emergency notification system MessageMe. The message instructed affiliates near JFK and Eliot Streets — both of which border Harvard Kennedy School’s campus and undergraduate residential house Kirkland House — to seek shelter.

“Please avoid area of JFK and Eliot Streets due to police search for potentially armed assailant. Shelter in place if in area. More information to follow,” the alert read.

The Cambridge Police Department tweeted at approximately 12:40 p.m. that local authorities in and around Cambridge were conducting a search for the suspect and included a photo of Panjrolia in the post.

Lesley University also notified its affiliates of a “possible active shooter” in the Harvard Square area as well.

“Possible active shooter in Harvard Square. CPD responding to avoid the area,” the alert read.

As police searched for Panjrolia, helicopters flew overhead, according to multiple people in the area. Cambridge resident Mohamud S. Suleyman said he saw roughly 30 or 40 police officers by the Garage during the arrest.

Panjrolia is wanted for allegedly murdering his 60-year-old father, Mahendra B. Panjrolia with an assault rifle Saturday inside their home in Philadelphia, Pa. Mahendra Panjrolia was pronounced dead at the scene from gunshot wounds to the head. Philadelphia police also said Sohan Panjrolia has schizophrenia.

Catalono wrote in his email to Harvard affiliates that HUPD received information Monday night from both the Cambridge Police Department and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center that Panjrolia was believed to be in Harvard Square.

“Per the Philadelphia Police Department, the suspect was believed to be armed,” he wrote.

Catalano added that the information was dispatched to all HUPD officers, who were instructed to look out for the suspect.

Panjrolia served as a research assistant at Harvard Business School in 2010 and a “course assistant” at the University in 2011, according to his LinkedIn page.

The area previously saw a separate shooting in May that resulted in one person — a Cambridge resident — injured.

—This is a developing story. Check for updates.

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