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Emily Welker, Published February 04 2013

Suspect in Friday night assault returns to Mezzaluna on Sunday night

FARGO – Mezzaluna, the restaurant getting rave reviews in downtown Fargo, is creating quite a bit of loyalty among its patrons – but in one case, not the kind they want.

A man accused of assaulting Mezzaluna workers Friday night – allegedly hitting two employees before he was restrained – was released from jail and then came back to the restaurant Sunday night during a private Super Bowl party held by the staff.

“To see him two days later walking into the restaurant … ,” said cook Steven Muller, his voice trailing off.

Kurtis Harrington, 22, was charged Monday in Fargo Municipal Court with simple assault and resisting a police officer.

Muller said Harrington walked in Sunday night, sat down and asked for a beer. Muller said no one at the restaurant knows Harrington or why he came back. He didn’t assault anyone, but workers called police anyway, Muller said.

“If something major happened, it would be our livelihoods,” Muller said.

Muller said he thought that police had barred Harrington from the building and was surprised they did not take him into custody Sunday. Instead, he said, officers talked with Harrington and told him he was subject to arrest if he returned to the restaurant.

The charges Harrington was suspected of when he was arrested Friday are both misdemeanors, which ordinarily don’t require an appearance in front of a judge before release from jail, Lt. Joel Vettel said.

Vettel said police didn’t bar Harrington from Mezzaluna’s premises after the first incident because no one at Mezzaluna had asked them to.

“It just might have been an oversight because of the fighting,” Vettel said Monday, adding that the charges were appropriate and the response time excellent.

“It’s seeming he has some sort of vendetta against them. We’re concerned, of course,” he said.

Vettel said he had followed up with the restaurant and offered recommendations on how to secure the business.

Mezzaluna owner Sara Watson said they’ve already taken steps to lock the delivery door.

“It’s crazy. I don’t know if he’s a stalker or what,” she said. “It could happen to anybody downtown. Hopefully, he’ll move on.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541