By: Richard L. Smith
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office is working with multiple law enforcement agencies to actively investigate a possible bias-motivated incident that took place this weekend, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced on Sunday.
Prosecutor Santiago said Asbury Park Police were advised of a possible bias incident at the Trinity Episcopal Church, located on Asbury Avenue within the City, sometime between 9 and 10:30 p.m. Friday during an anti-racism event.
According to Prosecutor Santiag, Asbury Park Police immediately investigated the incident.
As part of their investigation, Prosecutor Santiago said Asbury Park Police notified the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office based on the nature of the allegations.
At this time, there are no known or confirmed resulting injuries to any civilians.
The Asbury Park Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office take any allegation of bias exceptionally seriously and, as a result, will be working in conjunction with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, under the direction of Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, to investigate this matter.
Prosecutor Santiago said he wants to remind the public that any act of bias, perceived or otherwise, towards a race and or religious group will not be tolerated in our local communities.
Asbury Park's incident is the second potentially biased attack on a house of worship in NJ, prompting NJ Attorney General to release this statement:
"The Office of the Attorney General is aware of the attempted arson at a synagogue in Bloomfield, Essex County, that occurred in the early morning hours today.
My office is working closely with local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend the suspect in this attack. Our investigation remains ongoing.
We are also aware of the attack on members of a church in Monmouth County that occurred on Saturday – another incident being pursued as potentially bias-motivated. Collaboration across multiple agencies is occurring in that ongoing investigation as well.
We are cognizant of the fact that these attacks have occurred while violence continues to erupt in Israel and while our own nation reckons with violence at home.
I want to reassure all New Jerseyans – especially our friends and neighbors of the Black community and the Jewish faith – that law enforcement continues to take the appropriate steps to increase our presence around sensitive places so that everyone in our state can worship, love, and live without fear of violence or threat."
The investigation remains active and ongoing at this time.
If anyone has any information on Friday night's incident, they are urged to contact Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office Detective Brian Hammarstrom at 800-533-7443 or Asbury Park Police Department Detective Anthony Troublefield at 732-774-1300.
Detective Sergeant Brian Christensen and Detective Samer Abboud from the Attorney General's Office, Division of Criminal Justice, are also assisting with the investigation.
Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about this or any crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip line at 1-800-671-4400;