Underage students charged with assaulting cop

Paul Szaniawski

After allegedly throwing beer cans at a Lawrence Township Police officer at an off-campus party, three students were charged with aggravated assault, according to police.

More than 20 other people received summonses for violating the township’s underage drinking ordinance at the party. Police were called to the house at 1001 Lawrence Road near Meadowbrook Court at around 12:30 a.m., on Sunday after neighbors complained about noise and cars parked in the area, said Lt. Charles Edgar, a spokesperson for the Lawrence Township Police Department.

Partygoers then greeted an arriving police officer by allegedly hurling beer at him from above.

“Somebody dumped a beer on Officer Sean Kerins but it missed him,” Edgar said. “Then he was hit in the head and neck area with a beer that was thrown from a second-story window.”

The officer said he was hit with an almost full can of Keystone Light after he dodged other cans.

Rider freshmen Laura Tighe, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Caitlin Long, of Bayonne, N.J.; and Jessica Panzarella of Bellmore, N.Y., were identified and suspected of throwing the beer, police said. The students were charged with aggravated assault on a police officer.

Officers found an unidentified 17-year-old Rider student who they felt needed medical attention and took him to Capital Health System, at Fuld, in Trenton. The student was not seriously injured, according to local reports. A resident advisor went to the hospital, according to the police report, to take custody of the underage student.

The parents of the three young women charged with assault were notified by the University, said Dean of Students Anthony Campbell. The parents of the students who received summonses will also be notified when the University obtains their identities.

“We don’t have all the information yet,” Higgins said. “We’re gathering the information and working with the police.”

The parental notification now comes into play whenever any student violates University policy or any ordinance off-campus about underage drinking, as a part of the current alcohol policy, according to Campbell.

The party was held at a rental property owned by Paulette Guthrie, of Hamilton, who bought the home last year, according to property records.

Police and University officials didn’t reveal the identity of the renters, but police believed they were from Rider.

The University will also look into the allegations.

“The charges against the three women are serious charges,” Campbell said. “We’ll follow up with our investigation and deal with them as we always do.”

Despite the incident occurring off campus, Campbell said it was fair game for Rider’s judicial process, pointing to Code Violation 1.6 under University policies in The Source Student Handbook.

“We have a long-standing policy in the code of conduct that we can adjudicate violations of law if someone is convicted off campus,” he said.

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