Felony Riot Charges Levied Against Three Held after Preliminary Hearing Waivers; More Charges to Come
Five of the 13 charged with crimes in Lancaster city during the riots September 13 were scheduled for preliminary hearings Monday, and three now are formally charged with felony riot.
Violence erupted late Sept. 13 and early Sept. 14 in downtown Lancaster city, as BLM and antifa clashed with law enforcement near the Lancaster Police headquarters on Chestnut.
About 1,000 had gathered in a protest after Lancaster police officers responding to a domestic disturbance call on Sunday afternoon were forced to shoot a knife-wielding attacker, Ricardo Munoz, 27, a violent felon with a history of stabbing four people including an adolescent.
Protesters began gathering Sunday evening but it wasn’t until after 9:30 p.m. that violence began erupting, with protesters taunting the police, accosting white passerbys, throwing rock and bricks and edging up the access ramp at the Bureau of Police headquarters.
That’s when it became a riot. It was not a peaceful protest.
Late in the violent overnight riots in downtown Lancaster on September 13-14, police charged into the crowd targeting those identified as ringleaders and instigators.
Thirteen were arrested and initially faced $1 million bail. Bails were since reduced or modified.
Four of the alleged rioters – three men and a woman – waived preliminary hearings on various charges Monday in court.
Jamal S. Newman, T. Jay Fry, and Jessica Lopez will face charges of felony riot, conspiracy, and related offenses in Lancaster County Court, District Judge Bruce Roth ordered on Monday.
Seth Gardner, 21, will face a misdemeanor count of propulsion of missiles and summary public drunkenness in County Court.
Also Monday, District Judge Bruce Roth modified bail for Newman, Fry, Lopez, and Gardner.
A fifth person, 31-year-old Timothy Garcia, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and possession of cocaine, as originally charged. He was sentenced to time served to 23 months and must pay restitution.
Some charges against Newman, Fry and Lopez were modified.
A first-degree felony count of arson against Newman was amended to a summary, based on the value of what was burned, and felony arson originally filed against Fry was withdrawn due to insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. Multiple counts of conspiracy were consolidated to one count of conspiracy to commit riot.
The investigation is ongoing regarding anyone else who was involved in crimes on Sept 13. and Sept. 14, and police and the district attorney will continue to pursue charges and prosecution against those individuals. Part of the investigative process involves review of video.
“The actions of police and SERT in an extremely volatile environment last week minimized property damage and protected lives,” District Attorney Heather Adams said Monday. “Moving forward, we will assure fair process for all defendants by meticulously analyzing all charges and determining what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The burden of proof required for arrest and conviction are entirely different standards, and after careful review of charges filed by Lancaster city police, the DA’s office made the applicable amendments necessary to secure convictions in each case consistent with the law and the evidence, they said.
Regarding bail, District Judge Roth, in response to motions from defense lawyers, modified bail for Newman, Fry, and Lopez to unsecured amounts – meaning funds are not required for release.
All three are under bail conditions, which include a ban from being within a block of the Lancaster city police station.
Lopez will be under house arrest, District Judge Roth ordered. Gardner’s bail was reduced from $10,000 to $5,000.
Preliminary hearings for others charged regarding actions on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14 are scheduled for later dates, including Matthew Modderman, 31, a staffer with LNP | lancasteronline, who was arrested Monday at the 100 block of Prince Street near the Lancaster Bureau of Police headquarters, where for hours antifa and BLM rioters clashed with police officers amid tear gas, pepper spray and pepper balls from law enforcement in response to bricks and rocks.