Howell cops: We’re not filing charges in alleged attack by parents at ice hockey game
Howell police told New Jersey 101.5 Thursday afternoon they don't intend to file charges after an alleged altercation between parents and referees at an ice hockey game Sunday night.
Police said the involved parties may still file criminal complaints of their own — and one referee has told New Jersey 101.5 he plans to — but their own investigation is complete.
Howell Detective Sgt. Christian Antunez said police are “wrapping up a few loose ends” in their investigation but “there will be no charges coming out of the Howell Police Department.”
There is only one other possible witness to interview — a juvenile — "but it will not have an impact on bringing charges, which is what we expected from the beginning," he said.
If people involved file complaints of their own, "that is on them," Antunez said.
The police statement contradicts earlier ones by Richard Lomurro, an attorney for referee Dave Brown, who said Thursday he expected charges would be filed after police finished interviewing a large number of potential witnesses.
It's still unclear what happened following the tie game at Howell Ice World on Sunday. In a phone interview Monday with New Jersey 101.5, referee Brown said two parents came into the refs’ locker room following the Manalapan-Howell match and attacked him and another referee. He said he feels like he “went 15 rounds with heavyweight boxer Ronda Rousey.” Fellow referee Sal Bianco Sr. has backed up that account to NJ Advance Media.
But one of the allegedly involved parents, Robert Dovenero of Point Pleasant told the Asbury Park Press Brown instigated the altercation, saying Brown used an obscenity in reference to the mother of one of the players, and the woman's husband confronted him in the locker room.
"There’s just not enough evidence or reason to move forward," Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Charlie Webster told New Jersey 101.5. "The case is closed."
Howell police, in a written statement issued Thursday afternoon, said the alleged offense would have been a simple assault — which "in New Jersey is classified as a 'disorderly persons offense,' therefore, it does not rise to a level of severity in which a police officer can make an arrest without having actually witnessed the offense take place."
"There are exceptions to this rule but this case does not qualify as one," police wrote. "Also, the enhanced criminal penalties for assaulting school employees do not apply in this case."
Lomurro had said earlier Thursday he expected witness interviews would still take some time.
"There's a lot of people walking around," Lomurro said. "Parents, kids, scorekeepers who are involved with high school sports so there were people around. This was an area filled with people ... who saw this thing go down."
Lomurro said he believed "the evidence is going to show clearly that this was really an unprovoked attack on the referees. They were essentially sitting in the locker getting changed after a game and they were attacked out of nowhere by parents."
He also plans to speak with owner of the rink to find out if any surveillance video may be available.