A video of a brawl that took place early Sunday morning in front of St. Joseph Catholic Church on University Drive has been circulating on social media.
Mississippi State University senior Hannah Strider witnessed the incident.
“My friend and I were walking down towards Stromboli's, and all of a sudden we saw probably three or four guys running on the other side of the road, and all of a sudden we hear a slap and look over, and there’s like six guys and a ton of people without their shirts on brawling literally in the front lawn of St. Joseph’s,” Strider said.
The fight began with a few people, but grew as more joined in.
“It initially was only a couple of them, probably three or four to begin with, and then of course all their buddies jumped in and stuff, so in the end it was just a full-on street battle. It was nuts,” Strider said.
Although police officers were already in the Cotton District, it took them several minutes to arrive on the scene of the incident.
“There were a ton of people gathered around watching it, but the craziest thing was that all the cops were occupied because all the bars had just closed recently, so they were probably a block and a half or two blocks up, and they were all occupied trying to get everyone out of the bar safely and get the traffic directed and everything. So, it took maybe five minutes for the cops to run down there. It was pretty crazy,” Strider said.
Brandon Lovelady, Starkville Police Department’s Public Information Officer, said police already stationed in the Cotton District arrived on the scene shortly after the conflict was reported.
“It got reported and there were officers right down the road, I know that some of them that responded were ones that were working the Cotton District, so (officers arrived) not very long after it got reported for sure,” Lovelady said.
Strider said the arrival of police officers diffused the situation and onlookers quickly dispersed.
“I stayed until the cops came. One officer literally sprinted down from the Bin in the Cotton District, he literally ran down,” Strider said. “And everybody, of course, saw cops coming and dispersed, but shortly thereafter everybody walked off, and the cops talked to obviously the guys that were guilty. They didn’t have shirts on, so it was pretty obvious who they were going after.”
According to a press release issued by the Starkville PD, 22-year-old Nathan Cvitanovich, an MSU junior involved in the brawl, was arrested the day following the incident for a simple assault warrant. Following Cvitanovich's arrest, 23-year-old Dakota Husser of Biloxi was arrested Tuesday for the same charge in relation to Sunday morning's fight. Wednesday, two more students, MSU seniors Harrison Porter and Stephen Jernigan II, were arrested for simple assault and are believed to have started the conflict.
"We believe these individuals instigated this altercation by verbally assaulting an intoxicated female," a Starkville PD press release regarding the last two arrests stated.
According to Lovelady, Starkville PD is still investigating the case and will continue to release information as it becomes available. They expect more arrests to be made.