MARGATE – Thirteen young adults and juveniles were arrested over Memorial Day weekend after a melee broke out Saturday on the beach near Lucy the Elephant and at the Wawa on Washington and Ventnor avenues, and city officials are working on a “game plan” to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
According to Sgt. Joe Scullion of the Margate Police Department, there were about 300 young people gathered on the beach at Decatur Avenue — the place where everyone wants to be seen — when several fights broke out around 2 p.m.
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Police on the day shift arrested six adults and seven juveniles, most of them visitors to the Jersey Shore, on charges of disorderly conduct, simple assault, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, drug offenses and DWI related offenses, Scullion said in a press release. Ten of those arrested were from Pennsylvania, and three were from New Jersey.
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An officer assigned to the beach radioed for help, and every officer on duty responded to disperse the crowd and stop several fights that had broken out, but the officers were outnumbered and had to call for assistance from the Ventnor and Longport police departments, Scullion said.
Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer 2017.
Two Margate officers were injured in the melee. One sustained a head wound after being hit with a plastic bottle, and the other suffered a leg wound during the course of the arrests. The injuries were minor, Scullion said.
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Later in the day, officers on the night shift experienced the same problems when large groups of young people gathered at the Wawa on Washington Avenue across from Historic City Hall. Police charged several with drug offenses, disorderly conduct and curfew violations. They were released on their own recognizance pending court dates.
Commissioner of Public Safety John Amodeo said he has been working closely with the police to come up with a game plan on how to prevent such incidents from happening again.
He said the city had a similar experience last year on Memorial Day weekend.
“This is the second consecutive year that this has happened,” he said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “Last year we didn’t think it was going to be a problem, but it has happened again this year.”
Amodeo said Police Chief David Wolfson “has a game plan in the works.”
“The chief will give the commissioners an update at their meeting on Thursday to discuss the controls put in place, but we don’t want to tip our hand because the kids will just move somewhere else,” Amodeo said. “We are taking it very seriously and want to be proactive.”
Public officials are working in collaboration with Wawa management to ensure the safety of all residents and visitors, he said.