By Robert Mills and Sarah Favot
LOWELL — A Chelmsford man was stabbed to death and two other men suffered wounds yesterday in what a witness described as a lengthy melée between three men in the laundry area of a South Lowell apartment building.
Timothy Lewis, 34, died of injuries suffered in the incident, according to Jessica Pastore, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone.
Lewis is a 1996 Chelmsford High School graduate, where he was a standout wrestler and co-captain. He was fondly remembered by faculty and coaches last night.
More recently, in 2007, he faced home-invasion charges, along with his brother, in connection with a Lowell incident.
City police and prosecutors working with Leone’s office continued to investigate the killing last night and released little information, except to say the incident does not appear to be random.
“The public should not be in fear in relation to this incident,” said Pastore, who declined to elaborate.
She said no arrests have been made.
Police said they were called to 105 Felker St., in the Delmont Gardens housing development in South Lowell at 9:57 a.m., when someone called 911 to report three men had been stabbed.
Photos by Bob Whitaker.
The caller reported some of the victims were being driven to Saints Medical Center in separate private vehicles, said Capt. Kelly Richardson.
Police found one of the victims in a car at Rogers and Concord streets a short time later, and Richardson said that man was taken to Lahey Clinic in Burlington.
Richardson said another man was found at 105 Felker St. That man was taken to Lowell General Hospital, according to Richardson.
It was not immediately clear if the third man was found at Saints Medical Center, or located elsewhere before he arrived. Police declined to provide further information.
Authorities did not identify anyone but Lewis, and did not provide ages for the other two men injured.
The incident shook residents of the large housing complex, in which 105 Felker St., is one of numerous similar apartment buildings near the Tewksbury town line.
Five Lowell police cruisers and several state police vehicles were parked outside about noon, and the parking lot near 105 Felker St. was cordoned off behind yellow police tape.
Residents described the complex as working-class. One woman noted that as of the early afternoon, the parking lot was still largely empty since most residents were still at work.
Police remained at the scene until late last night.
A woman who was walking into a building in the complex yesterday afternoon said she witnessed the fight inside the laundry area at 105 Felker St.
That woman, who spoke on condition she not be identified, said she heard a commotion and saw the fight when she investigated what was happening.
“I wanted to see what was going on,” she said.
The woman said she saw three middle-aged men fighting in the first-floor laundry room and that two men appeared to be punching a third man who had a knife. She said the man with the knife appeared to be stabbing the two men who were punching him.
“He was screaming for help,” she said of the man with the knife. “The other two kept punching him.”
She said it seemed like the fight may have lasted as long as 10 minutes.
“They were punching and punching and punching,” she said.
The woman said she recognized one of the men who was being stabbed, and that he lives in the building with his girlfriend. She did not provide his name. She said the two other men “took off in cars,” after the fight.
She said she has never been aware of the man whom she recognized as causing problems in the building.
The woman said the incident left her shaken, since her children often play in the area. She said she did not call police because she was afraid.
“I have kids,” the woman said. “I don’t want to get involved.”
Her account seemed to fit with police activity at the scene. Police taped off the door leading to the laundry room on the first floor of 105 Felker St., and pieces of tape on the floor appeared to mark something on the laundry-room floor.
Detectives could be seen in the windows of an apartment just above the laundry room.
Officers kept a log of everyone entering the building last night, and plain-clothes detectives could be seen interviewing residents.
Susan Lannon, a resident of the building where the incident took place, said she heard tires squealing yesterday morning and looked out her window and saw the top of a white car exiting the complex.
When told of the stabbing, she said, “That is really terrifying.”
Residents said they saw an ambulance leave around 10 a.m.
Lewis was a two-year captain of the Chelmsford High wrestling team before graduating in 1996.
“I do remember him pretty specifically. I had him in class,” said Rob Russo, who was Lewis’ assistant wrestling coach. “He was the type of kid that really liked to try… He wanted to do good. That really kind of showed itself in wrestling. He was really tenacious in that.”
Russo said of a half-dozen names that stick out from 13 years of coaching wrestling, Lewis was one of them.
“He was such a tough kid for not being too big,” said Russo.
Russo said, “I’m not going to tell you he was a Rhodes scholar… I don’t think school came easy to him. But he wanted to please you. I liked having him in class.”
Russo taught business at Chelmsford High.
Things took a turn for the worse for Lewis in 2007, when Sun archives indicate Timothy Lewis, then 30, and Allen Lewis, 34, were arrested on Nov. 6, 2007, in connection with a home invasion.
Timothy and Allen Lewis were both charged with armed home invasion, armed robbery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in connection with an incident in which a 34-year-old man told police he was beaten with a pipe and a stick.
It was not immediately clear whether either man was ever convicted.
The slaying is Lowell’s first homicide of 2012. There were three homicides in 2011, and six in 2010.
Managing Editor Kris Pisarik contributed to this report.