Hundreds involved in brawls at Gloucester Township Day, 10 youths arrested, police say

GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, NJ (CBS) – Ten teenagers and two adults were arrested after several altercations broke out at the Gloucester Township Day celebration Saturday night.

Gloucester Township police said a large crowd, estimated at 500 young people, gathered near the basketball courts at Veterans Park as event organizers prepared to host a drone light show on June 1.

According to police, “event security personnel noticed an influx of teens and young adults being dropped off,” and around 8:40 p.m., “large groups” began fighting with each other and running through the crowd.

Police said two people were arrested at the time, but the crowd remained “hostile and disorderly,” prompting a request for additional GTPD officers and a request for mutual aid from surrounding Camden County police departments.

The drone show, which was originally scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m., started earlier due to the “unpredictable situation,” police said.

When the show ended and officers began to disperse the crowd, police said, large groups moved to the nearby Marketplace shopping center on Chews Landing Road, where numerous fights between teenagers and young adults continued.

According to Gloucester Township police, the clashes continued for two hours. Several children reported being assaulted, and two of them suffered minor injuries.

In total, 10 juveniles, a 13-year-old, four 15-year-olds, three 16-year-olds and two 17-year-olds, were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace before being released to their guardians, police said. Also arrested during the chaos were two adults, including an 18-year-old and a 33-year-old Camden man who police said rode his bicycle into a group of officers, knocking a GTPD officer to the ground.

The man was also charged with attempting to flee from police.

The officer who was knocked to the ground suffered only minor injuries and refused medical treatment, Gloucester police said. Two other officers also suffered minor injuries when they tried to break up the fight.

“The police officers who responded demonstrated great restraint in dealing with violent and riotous groups. The mutual aid received by surrounding departments was unprecedented in Gloucester Township,” Gloucester Township Police Chief David Harkins said in a statement.

The unrest was brought under control shortly after 11 p.m., the police department said. A total of 68 GTPD officers were assigned or responded to the chaos on Gloucester Township Day, along with at least 30 deputies from Camden County and Deptford Township. Police also said a countywide EMS task force was called to bring more EMS resources to the scene, and the Gloucester Township Police Special Response Team also responded.

“The lawlessness of unsupervised groups of teens and young people behaving without regard for others ruined a great family-oriented event that has been held for over 40 years to raise funds for the Gloucester Township Scholarship Committee,” Harkins continued. “This type of lawlessness and violent, riotous behavior will not be tolerated and will not characterize the great community of Gloucester Township.”

Police believe most of the teenagers and young people involved in the fights were not from Gloucester Township and were dropped off at the event.

The Gloucester Township Day incident is the latest case of youth disruption to affect the Garden State. chaotic weekend at the Jersey Shore on Memorial Day weekend prompted the president of the New Jersey police union to call for harsher penalties for children and adults who misbehave on the beach.

In Ocean City, a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death and taken to the hospital after a fight broke out on the boardwalk on Saturday, May 25, and in Wildwood, city officials and police declared a state of emergency in the early hours of Memorial Day. The order, which closed the boardwalk for several hours, came after the city's police were inundated with 911 calls referring to an “extremely large number of young adults and teens” who were in town over the holiday weekend.