WORCESTER – While Worcester Police officers canvassed the neighborhoods of Grafton Hill on Saturday night, June 22, in search of suspects responsible for shooting a 32-year-old man on Benham St., more than 200 people showed up in their cars for an unsanctioned “car meet” at South Plaza on Grafton St.
South Plaza — home to Burger King, Papa Gino’s, Citi Trends and several other stores — is just 1/4 mile from the crime scene at Benham St.
As officers were searching for the shooting suspects believed to be in a dark-colored Dodge Charger, they were also tasked with dispersing the hundreds of cars from the Grafton St. area.
Car meets — sometimes referred to as “car shows” — are public meetings of people to show off all kinds of vehicles. In addition to South Plaza, they’ve been known to take place at multiple locations on Grove St. and at the parking lot of the Walmart Supercenter in Worcester.
According to Worcester Police spokesperson Lt. Sean Murtha, the WPD recognizes that these car meets are a problem and can be disruptive for residents when they are held without the necessary permits.
“There is a process to get licenses for these shows for a reason. The process ensures that they take place in appropriate areas, and neighborhood residents are given proper notice. It is a problem when groups circumvent this process and disturb residents by having events in unsanctioned locations,” Murtha said in an email to ThisWeekinWorcester.com on Monday, June 24.
Around 9:30 PM on Saturday, the WPD dispersed the vehicles from South Plaza — only to have the cars relocate to the Southwest Cutoff plaza off of Sunderland Rd. and Rt. 20.
Police received a call from an employee at the Pub 99 Restaurant to report the car meet and when police arrived, they found around 75 cars in front of the Chuck E. Cheese.
The vehicles ultimately dispersed a second time after the WPD arrived, according to sources.
When asked what the WPD is doing to enforce that these car meets don’t take place, Lt. Murtha said it’s a difficult task for the WPD.
“We are monitoring social media and following up on any tips we get. Obviously, it is difficult to predict every time small groups of people get together, but we recognize that these unsanctioned gatherings are often very disruptive to neighborhoods. We will immediately put a stop to them when we are made aware of them,” he said.
According to Lt. Murtha, there has only been one arrest made this year during the break-up on of these car meets. The arrest took place in the Union Station area.
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