Former Lowell mayor helps break up disturbance by knife-wielding assailants at Market Basket

LOWELL — A Saturday morning trip to the city’s new Market Basket is usually a tranquil experience.

But as former Mayor Rodney Elliott was leaving the store at 90 Old Ferry Road on Saturday morning, he said he heard a woman near checkout lane 15 shouting for somebody to call 911.

Hearing the woman’s plea, he said he walked out of the store expecting to find a person having a medical emergency.

“I walk outside and these kids are kicking and punching a vehicle,” Elliott said. “That’s why I immediately hollered and they stopped momentarily. That gave the vehicle a chance to take off.”

Elliott said a woman was inside the vehicle and it was trying to leave the parking lot. Two men were on either side, one wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and the other wearing a plaid pullover. Both faces were covered by a blue gaiter, Elliott said.

With the vehicle taking off, Elliott said one of the men threw a potted plant at the front of the Market Basket. Both men then started taunting customers outside of the next-door Marshall’s, including a military veteran and a woman.

Initially, Elliott said the men started to run, but one returned brandishing a knife, which he used to taunt customers. At this point, Elliott said at least three Market Basket employees had come outside. With a growing group of people who wanted them gone, Elliott said he took off again.

“He starts running towards the woods, so to speak,” Elliott said, gesturing towards the Bowlero bowling alley. “He runs up the back of a car, jumps off and smashed the hood. So we chase them and I’m on the phone with 911.”

Elliott, the veteran and the Market Basket employees started to chase them as they fled into the vicinity of Townsend Avenue. As police arrived on scene, Elliott said he stopped and told them the direction the two men had gone.

Deputy Police Superintendent Mark LeBlanc confirmed that police had been dispatched shortly after 10:40 a.m. for a disturbance and an adult male was arrested for destruction of property. However, LeBlanc said the identity of the person would not be released until after an arraignment in Lowell District Court.

Two managers at Market Basket declined to comment on Sunday.

With a gaggle of dirt bikers causing nuisances throughout the city, Elliott said he doesn’t believe the incident Saturday was isolated.

“This has got to end,” Elliott said. “People should be able to come to their Market Basket and not be in fear of being terrorized by teenagers clearly out just to wreak havoc on a Saturday morning.”

With the incident now over, Elliott said he is grateful to the Market Basket employees and the veteran who helped chase the two men, preventing them from causing further harm.

As a candidate for the 16th Middlesex District state representative seat, Elliott said he believes there should be more police officers on the streets and more targeted patrols. Additionally, he wants to see an expansion of mental health resources in public schools.

He said he’s heard from teachers in Lowell, Chelmsford and Dracut that they are struggling to get students the help they need.

“I don’t think it’s an easy solution,” Elliott said. “But Saturday morning people shouldn’t have to come to the local Market Basket and be harassed and (have their) cars broken.”