SOPD, surrounding police, respond to large and allegedly rowdy group downtown

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — On April 29, between the hours of 8 p.m. and midnight, the South Orange Police Department became aware of an unusually large crowd of youths and young adults that began to gather and descend upon the downtown area, according to a May 1 press release. All officers available for duty were quickly dispatched to the affected area in an effort to maintain public safety and monitor the unusual occurrence. As this situation evolved, disturbances began to surface and some individuals in the crowd were reportedly observed by officers to be interfering with vehicular and pedestrian traffic, causing serious concerns of safety for all parties.

Due to the significant number of individuals, estimated to be approximately 300 to 400, and most on foot, the southbound section of Sloan Street from South Orange Avenue was closed at approximately 8:30 p.m. as a large contingent was gathering along Sloan Street and in the roadway, furthering safety concerns, according to police. As officers continued to monitor the situation, pockets of alleged disturbances involving disorderly conduct and physical altercations among the crowd began to surface. At that time, approximately 9:30 p.m., the surrounding police agencies from Maplewood, Orange and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department were notified and responded to assist South Orange police in dispersing the crowd in a safe and orderly manner, according to police. By midnight the crowds were substantially diminished and the threat of any further incidents had dissipated.

During the event two individuals — Paris Armwood, 20, of Newark and Qaadir Mayewillis, 20, of East Orange — were arrested for disorderly conduct as a result of alleged physical altercations. A 15-year-old South Orange resident was reportedly physically assaulted during the incident and received injuries to his face and mouth, and a 15-year-old Maplewood resident told police that she was struck and kicked by two males during that time period.

There were no reports of any weapons observed or used by any individuals during any incident. The South Orange Detective Bureau is actively investigating the reported incidents in an effort to hold accountable any individuals determined to be responsible for said incidents.

Growing concern and rumors regarding the event prompted South Orange President Sheena Collum to post on social media that night to try to alleviate some concerns.

“Neighbors — I’ve received a few inquiries regarding what is occurring downtown,” Collum wrote on social media that night. “I’ve been in contact with our Police Chief Kyle Kroll throughout the night. He reported earlier that 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. The Chief requested mutual aid from surrounding departments for assistance. At this time, two individuals have been taken into custody.”

At this time, the South Orange Police Department will continue to increase its presence in the downtown area as the warmer days and evenings approach, including assigning officers to additional foot patrols in the immediate area. According to the press release, South Orange continues to welcome all people to enjoy everything the village has to offer, but expects all visitors to conduct themselves with civility and without impacting public safety or intruding on the ability of other people to similarly enjoy the village.  

Individuals having information regarding any incidents occurring during this event are encouraged to contact Det. Lt. Brian McGuire at 973-763-3000, ext. 7788.