WATERVILLE— A standoff involving about 25 people that police described as “just shy of a riot” led to a Waterville man’s arrest early Sunday morning outside the Chez Paree bar on Water Street.

Just after 1 a.m. officers responded to a report of a fight on Healy Court, just north of the bar, and found two groups of people posturing to fight, according to Sgt. Lincoln Ryder, of the Waterville Police Department.

Ryder said the two groups — one of about 10 people, and another of about 15 — were “highly agitated,” and the first two officers to arrive on the scene worked at keeping the groups away from each other while the belligerents taunted each other around the officers. He said he didn’t know what had caused the conflict.

One man, Jesse Sanipas, of Waterville, took out a knife and was threatening a person in the other group with it, Ryder said.

“According to the report, it was a mutual thing. I think the only thing that prevented that from becoming a physical fight or even a stabbing was that the officers were there in between the two groups, which was obviously very dangerous,” he said.

When the officers saw the knife, they pointed a Taser at Sanipas and ordered him to drop it. He complied and the officers were able to confiscate it, Ryder said.

Sanipas, 32, was arrested on charges of failure to disperse and threatening display of a weapon. He remained in custody at the Kennebec County jail on Sunday.

“I would say the situation was tantamount to a riot. When they were all ordered to disperse, Jesse was one that did not leave the area as ordered; and also because he was displaying a knife in a threatening manner, he was charged,” Ryder said. “I think because there were a large number of officers who were able to get there to assist, officer presence contributed to a successful outcome and was one of the reasons that other arrests were not necessary.”

Fifteen to 20 police officers from various agencies, including Maine State Police and Winslow police, went to the scene, he said. Santipas is being held in lieu of $500 cash bail and is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 4.

Conditions of his release include submission to searches or testing for alcohol, drugs and weapons; no possession or consumption of alcohol; and no possession of dangerous weapons.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

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