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April 02, 2020

Police break up New Jersey funeral, arrest 'unruly' individuals for violating stay-at-home order

Police Coronavirus
Large gathering violates New Jersey stay-at-home order Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Fifteen people who gathered for a funeral in Lakewood, Ocean County were charged with violating New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic. The crowd became 'unruly and argumentative' when police tried to break up the event, prosecutors said.

Fifteen people who attended a funeral in New Jersey on Wednesday night were charged with violating Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic, prosecutors said. 

Police attempted to break up the funeral, which had brought out 60 to 70 people in Lakewood, Ocean County. But the crowd turned "unruly and argumentative," leading to the arrests, according to prosecutors. 

One person also was charged with hindering his own apprehension after he allegedly gave police a fake name and social security number. 

Ignoring Murphy's order places other lives at risk, including the law enforcement officers who must respond to illegal gatherings, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said in a statement.

"I am imploring everyone to abide by the governor’s order and stay at home, so that we might all get through this very difficult time together — as painlessly as possible," Billhimer said. 

Murphy has ordered residents to stay home and banned gatherings of any size, which include funerals, wedding, parties and other celebrations, in order to mitigate COVID-19 cases. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has warned residents to stay at home or face "serious legal consequences."

On Monday, Gov. Murphy called for harsher punishments for those that violate his stay-at-home orders. Police recently have broken up several gatherings across the state, including a private party in Lakewood on Sunday.

New Jersey has 25,590 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 537 deaths. Only New York has more. Ocean County has reported 1,256 cases and 23 deaths.

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