Bias Incident In Ocean County Under Probe

  MANCHESTER – The Attorney General’s Office, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and township police are continuing their investigation of a suspected bias incident. One suspect has been taken into custody.

  Attorney General Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer stated that the ongoing investigation was prompted after several residential properties were spray-painted with swastikas and a suspicious house fire on June 6.

  Manchester Township police responded to a June 6 fire in the Beckerville area, but it is uncertain whether that was the house fire that was under investigation in this case.

  The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Major Crime Unit, Arson Squad, and Bias Crime Units, and the Manchester Township Police Department are working together on the joint investigation into that incident.

  The name of the individual taken into custody has not yet been released. Platkin said “random acts of hate designed to instill fear and to violate state residents’ sense of security and belonging, solely based on who they are and what they believe in, will be dealt with swiftly and harshly by law enforcement.”

  Platkin added, “those who feel entitled to trample on their neighbors’ rights to live in peace and exercise their constitutional freedoms will not find a safe haven in New Jersey.”

  The attorney general added that multiple law enforcement agencies are collaborating in the ongoing investigation into these crimes, which resulted in several instances of vandalism and property damage around Manchester Township.”

  “We want to express our gratitude to the diligent and dedicated staff of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the Manchester Township Police Department, who are working hard to resolve this case,” Platkin said.

  Township Mayor Robert Arace told The Manchester Times that during the evening of June 6, 2023, “some of our Pine Lake Park residences were targeted, and their properties were vandalized with hate symbols. Additionally, there was a fire to a home under construction, burning it to the ground; this incident is being investigated for arson. I applaud our police force and fire department’s efforts to ensure our safety.”

  “As of now, a person of interest has been detained and is being questioned by the Manchester Police, as this is part of an ongoing investigation. As your mayor, and neighbor, I am appalled by these actions and will not stand for such harm done to any of our residents. I fully condemn acts of vandalism in our town, but more specifically and emphatically, acts of vandalism fueled by hatred,” the mayor added.

  Mayor Arace added, “I want to address the act of possible arson which placed our Manchester residents at high risk as forest fires continue to rise in New Jersey this season. I support the full prosecution of those responsible for these heinous crimes, as I would for any crimes alike.”

  “These actions have no place in our town, state, or country, and I will continue to advocate for unity. My administration values the concerns of all our residents and encourages you to share your thoughts on this matter. Together, we can work towards maintaining the distinct character of our town and creating a thriving community of which we can all be proud,” he added.

  Township Police Chief Robert Dolan responded to an inquiry for comment saying, “I cannot comment on an active investigation.”