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June 02, 2024

12 people arrested, 3 police officers injured after fights break out at Gloucester Township event

Crowds of hundreds of unruly juveniles and young adults disrupted Gloucester Township Day at Veterans Park on Saturday night.

Investigations Fights
gloucester township day arrests Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

In Gloucester Township, hundreds of 'unruly' young people congregated at a community event Saturday and began fighting, leading to several arrests and injuries.

In Gloucester Township, 12 people were arrested and three police officers were injured after hundreds of "unruly" young people congregated at a community event on Saturday.

While attendees were awaiting a drone light show at the annual Gloucester Township Day event at Veterans Park, officers working security noticed an influx of juveniles and young adults being dropped off, Gloucester Township police said in a release. A crowd of approximately 500 people congregated in the area of the basketball courts, and at around 8:40 p.m. large groups began fighting each other and "running recklessly" through the crowd.

MORE: Ocean City leaders say police need more power in wake of boardwalk stabbing

Officers made two arrests for disorderly conduct, but the crowd "continued to remain hostile and disorderly." Additional Gloucester Township Police officers were called to the scene, and aid was requested from surrounding Camden County police agencies. The drone show was started early due to the "volatility of the situation."

When the light show ended, officers dispersed the crowd from the area. Large groups moved to the nearby Marketplace shopping center. There, multiple fights broke out among juveniles and young adults in the parking lot of the shopping center over the next two hours. Authorities determined that most of the young people were not from Gloucester Township. They had been dropped off and needed rides, police say. Many of the youths involved in the fighting were wearing black clothing, covering their faces with hoodies and wearing medical style face masks. Police and emergency medical services were called to the scene.

Several juveniles reported being assaulted, according to police. There were at least two minor injuries reported, and both were treated at the scene and released to parents or guardians.

While a group of officers were dispersing a crowd, a 33-year-old man from Camden rode a bicycle at "high speed" into them. A Gloucester Township officer was struck in the back by the bicycle and was knocked to the ground, police say. The officer suffered minor injuries and refused medical treatment at the scene. The Camden man was arrested for assaulting the officer and also charged with attempted escape, for trying to slip out of the handcuffs as he was being transported to police headquarters.

A second Gloucester Township police officer and a Clementon Borough police officer also got minor injuries as they attempted to break up one of the many fights that broke out.

In total, two adult males and 10 juveniles were arrested.

The incident was declared under control just after 11 p.m. An investigation is ongoing. 

"The lawless of groups of unsupervised juveniles and young people acting with total disregard for others, ruined a great family-oriented event which has taken place to raise funds for the Gloucester Township Scholarship Committee for over 40 years," Gloucester Township police chief David Harkins said in a release. "This type of lawlessness and violent riotous behavior will not be tolerated, and will not define the great community of Gloucester Township."

The unruly groups of young people at Gloucester Township Day comes about a week after a chaotic Memorial Day weekend in some South Jersey shore towns. Crowds of juveniles prompted a state of emergency that shut down Wildwood's boardwalk, and a 15-year-old boy was stabbed on the Ocean City boardwalk. 

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