By: Tracie Carter
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has reported the arrest of two Lacey Township residents, 19-year-old Alexander Gerber and 20-year-old Connor Dougherty.
The first incident occurred on November 21 when Lacey Township Police Officers, during a routine patrol, discovered a fire in the women's restroom at Gille Park.
Prosecutor Billhimer said the fire, which the Lanoka Harbor Fire Department quickly extinguished, was later determined by the Ocean County Fire Marshal's Office to have been deliberately set.
On November 26, police were called back to Gille Park for reports of criminal mischief. Officers found graffiti, including swastikas, in various parts of the park and damage to the women's restroom door.
Another vandalism act was discovered on November 28, involving similar graffiti on a clothing bin at the Mill Pond Basketball Courts and on the back of the ShopRite building on North Main Street.The breakthrough in the investigation came when Lacey Township Police identified a Chevrolet pickup truck linked to one of these incidents.
On November 28, at around 3:25 p.m., police located and stopped the vehicle, finding Gerber behind the wheel. He was arrested without incident and brought to Lacey Township Police Headquarters.
Further investigation revealed that Gerber and Dougherty collaborated in these acts of vandalism, including setting the restroom fire, damaging the restroom door, and spray painting graffiti at all three locations.
These charges underscore the severity of the actions taken by Gerber and Dougherty, highlighting the community's intolerance for such destructive and hateful behavior.
The investigation continues as the Lacey Township Police Department seeks to fully understand the motives behind these crimes and bring justice to the affected community.