Two officers were assaulted by bystanders gathering to witness a street fight Saturday, Paulsboro police said.
The two officers arrived on the scene of two women fighting in a residential neighborhood just a few blocks away from the police station.
According to Police Chief Vern Marino, the crowd swelled to about 100 people after the officers arrived.
When a female officer attempted to arrest one of the women, she was punched in the face by a bystander, Marino said. A male officer was shoved.
“Situations like this, a lot of people gather. And, unfortunately, when you get a large crowd like that, they can incite each other,” said Marino, in an interview. “Our whole standpoint was officer safety and the safety of the neighborhood.”
The two officers called for backup from nearby towns. About 20 officers from nine agencies arrived on the scene to provide assistance.
Marino said police arrested two suspects Saturday and intend to make another 20-25 arrests after reviewing the officers’ body camera footage. Most will be charged with disorderly persons offenses, he said. One man will be charged with theft of the female officer’s body camera.
Paulsboro Police Chief Vern Marino. (Emma Lee/WHYY)
Paulsboro resident Myra Hardy said her granddaughter was involved in the fight, but that the violence was incited by people living outside of the Gloucester County city.
“We have people that are trying to be bullies, running up and down the street, trying to take over,” said Hardy. “No. This ain’t gonna do it. You’re not from Paulsboro. We live here. We know how Paulsboro is.”
Marino, who said Saturday’s fight was not indicative of the town of mostly “law-abiding” citizens, intends to increase patrols in the area where the fight occurred.
The police and city council will hold an emergency public meeting Thursday night in response to the incident.