Police: Man threatening jogger with knife for not social distancing

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Police know how important wearing masks and social distancing are but say some people are taking it too far.

They arrested Michael Nichols, 43, Thursday for allegedly threatening a runner with a knife for not social distancing.

“Wow that is shocking,” said Jinah a Cambridge resident. “I know it can be tense given there are so many asymptomatic cases but building a sense of community is more important.”

Police say Nichols was walking with his 2 young kids on Putnam and Massachusetts Avenues when he pulled a knife on a jogger and ordered him to cross the street. Nichols now faces felony assault charges.

“It does provide a little indication on some of the stress that may be on some people,” said Jeremy Warnick of the Cambridge Police Department. “Certainly people have been in their homes for an extended period of time. We are going on six or seven weeks which is a long period of time for a lot of people. Still there is concern about mental health, there is concern about domestic violence. Things we have been actively supporting over the last few weeks.”

Police say they hope giving out free masks will help ease tension for those on edge.

Starting at 3 on weekdays and 11 on weekends, residents can pick them up at Tobin & Kennedy-Longfellow Elementary Schools

“That’s great,” said Jinah. “We were just making them out of handkerchiefs so if you’re giving out free masks and it’s actually made you might as well take one.”

If you can’t go there, masks will also be available at 9 food distribution sites in the city and at the Cambridge Police Department.

Plus Homeless Outreach Officers and police responding to calls will be distributing masks to people without them and/or without the resources to make them.

Police say because of some generous donations of up to 8,000 masks, the city of Cambridge now wants to make sure everyone has one before next Tuesday when the grace period for the temporary emergency order ends and everyone is expected to wear the masks in public.

Jinah was one of dozens of grateful Cambridge residents who came out Thursday to pick one up.

“There should be access to mask for everyone,” she said.

“This is one way we are making sure everyone has access to them if they don’t already,” said Warnick.

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