“We’re still in shock over this whole thing,” Jackson Mayor Michael Reina told the Asbury Park Press in an interview. Earlier in the day, Reina did not respond to a comment from Shore News Network. “This (hate) needs to stop; it needs to stop now… It’s not going to be condoned, and we’re going to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law and continue to do that, especially in Jackson.”
Reina, who is battling lawsuits against the Department of Justice and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for violating the religious civil rights of Jewish residents in his town, has come together with other leaders, including Avi Schnall of Agudath Israel of America; Michael Cohen and the American Defamation League to condemn Friday’s attack, which authorities are now saying targeted Orthodox Jews in Lakewood and Jackson.
On Sunday, federal agencies acknowledged they were looking into the matter. Later in the day, Congressman Chris Smith called upon the Department of Justice to see if the suspect committed any crimes he could be charged with at the federal level.
On Friday, a violent crime spree started near Martin Luther King Boulevard in Lakewood and ended a few miles away in Jackson. Police have arrested Dion Marsh, 27, of Manchester, for three counts of attempted murder.
In March, Reina blasted township residents, blaming them for anti-semitic comments made at planning board meetings for a residential development application denial. That developer subsequently sued the township before the case was settled in March.
“I said it before, I cannot sit up here and say everything comes out of my mouth is going to ring the right way,” Reina said. “There are too many differences of opinions. The entities that are suing the township, and once it’s settled, everyone will see who they are. Ya, passions are going to come out on both sides. We’re not telling anyone they can’t have a first amendment. We want people to voice their opinions, but do it in a way that doesn’t take away from what the end game is. You all talk about we want this and we want that.”
According to police, at around 1:15 pm on Friday, officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department were summoned to Martin Luther King Drive and Pine Street for a report of a carjacking. Responding officers determined that a male suspect approached a 2016 Toyota Camry, assaulted the driver, and fled the area in the vehicle.
An Orthodox Jewish man was removed from the vehicle by Marsh and repeatedly punched in the face. He was treated at the scene by Hatzola.
Prior to this carjacking, Marsh unsuccessfully attempted to carjack another victim, but the driver was able to escape with their vehicle unharmed.
Later in the evening, at around 6:00 pm, the Lakewood Township Police Department received a report of a pedestrian being struck by a motor vehicle in the area of Central Avenue and Carlton Avenue.
“Responding officers discovered that a male victim had been struck by a dark-colored vehicle. The victim was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune where he is listed in stable condition,” Ocean County Prosecutor Brad Billhimer reported. “At approximately 6:55 p.m., Lakewood Township Police Officers responded to a 911 call in reference to a stabbing in the vicinity of Pine Circle Drive and Lakewood New Egypt Road. The officers discovered a male victim with a stab wound to his chest. The victim was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center where he is listed in critical but stable condition.”
Later another pedestrian was struck, this time in Jackson Township.
“At approximately 8:20 p.m., Officers from the Jackson Township Police Department responded to a 911 call for a report of a pedestrian being struck by a motor vehicle in the area of Galassi Court,” Billhimer said. “Responding Officers were able to determine that the male victim had been struck by the same vehicle that was taken in the carjacking incident in Lakewood earlier in the day. The victim was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center where he is listed in critical but stable condition.”
Marsh was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted murder, carjacking, unlawful possession of a weapon and three counts of bias intimidation.
All of Marsh’s victims were Orthodox Jews.
“The bias intimidation charges arose over statements Marsh made to detectives,” said Bryan Huntenburg, spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office.
Lakewood and Jackson Township have one of the largest populations of Orthodox Jews in America.
“Our investigation reveals that these criminal acts were committed throughout the day yesterday into the early evening and that Marsh was acting alone and not in concert with anyone else. I’m grateful for the collaborative efforts of every police officer and detective that worked swiftly to identify Marsh and bring him into custody without further injury to anyone. A tremendous job by all involved,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.