Two 14-year-olds suffered minor injuries when a fight broke out in South Orange Village Center on Friday night.
Hundreds of young people had gathered in the Village Center, brought out by warm weather and social media posts, reported South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll.
Kroll said that the crowd grew to 400-500 young people — some as young as one 11-year-old from Orange, said Kroll, who spoke to the child while he was patrolling. The crowd grew so large that SOPD called in mutual aid from Maplewood, Orange, Irvington, West Orange and Livingston as well as the Essex County Sheriff. Kroll said that he wanted to ensure that the youth could be safely and calmly dispersed. A section of Sloan Street was shut down during the evening as police worked to manage and disperse the crowd.
Around 10:20 p.m., a fight broke out on Village Plaza. A 14-year-old girl from South Orange and a 14-year-old boy from Montclair were assaulted and sustained minor injuries. The two teens were treated by South Orange Rescue Squad, after which their parents arrived and took them home. The SOPD Juvenile Bureau is investigating the assaults, said Kroll, who added that the assailants are known to the victims and that police believe the incident was a pre-planned fight that originated in another jurisdiction via social media.
Kroll said he was pleased that, despite the one incident, there were not further fights, no major injuries and no use of pepper spray by police. Kroll said that officers reported that some of the young people were trying to antagonize officers into reacting and were recording officers’ responses with their cell phones.
“The officers did a fantastic job,” said Kroll.