SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Large groups of teenagers and young people in downtown South Orange on Saturday night led to heavy police presence, which included not only South Orange police, but also mutual aid from Maplewood, Newark, Orange, and the Essex County Sheriff, who were able to mostly disperse the crowds by around 10:15 p.m.
South Orange Village President Sheena Collum posted to her Facebook page at about 10:45 p.m. that according to South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll, "large gatherings of youth were growing in numbers and unfortunately obstructing traffic and acting in a disorderly manner affecting the safety of those around them." Two people were taken into custody, according to Kroll.
The South Orange Rescue Squad (SORS) tweeted at about 9:45 p.m., "Responding in South Orange for the stabbing," and at about 10:15 p.m., "Responding in South Orange for the assault." These tweets come from dispatches received by the SORS, and Scott Egelberg, Captain of the SORS, clarified, "often times what is dispatched as one thing, can be something totally different."
Egelberg also confirmed the SORS had "no major injuries or weapon related injuries in South Orange" on Saturday night.
An eyewitness, who asked to only use her first name, Robyn, stated to TAPinto SOMA that there was a huge mob of people, and that she saw the police giving chase to groups of young people. She said, "it's been going on for hours," adding that based on the size of the crowd, it must include residents of towns besides South Orange. She also stated that there were "hundreds of kids" packing Village Plaza and the surrounding streets and sidewalks. She added that she saw fighting, and that the police were having a difficult time getting the groups to disperse when asked to do so.
Another eyewitness, who also asked to use just his first name, Justin, told TAPinto SOMA "this happens every year ... a lot of young kids just come from other towns... to have a good time. But it's kind of bad." He continued, "you shouldn't go to another town with 300 kids and throw a crazy party," adding it always seems to lead to fights, and to the police needing to break-up the crowds.
While there were reports of multiple fights and a stabbing on social media, and several eyewitnesses told TAPinto SOMA that they heard gunshots, Collum's Facebook update stated: "there are no serious injuries nor any reports of weapons, etc. I mention that because rumors get started very quickly and already have begun. So those are the facts and if anything changes, I'll pass along as I hear from our Chief."