South Brunswick Police are in the midst of a crackdown on large parties at hotels, because of potential gang activity.
Police responded to two parties at two separate hotels this weekend, one of which was the scene of a gun a being fired. The parties involved at least 25 people from outside the area filling individual rooms beyond their capacity.
Police responded to the Hotel Vincenza, located at 3793 Route 1, At 10 p.m. Friday night, officers cleared several groups of people from the hotel after management complained to police that there were too many people in the rooms. In total, 25 people were removed from three rooms, police said.
Later, at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, police again responded to the hotel parking lot on complaints of a possible fight. No one claimed to be involved and the group had dispersed before police arrived. At 3 a.m. an officer on patrol was riding through the parking lot when he observed a large group congregating. The officer exited his patrol car and called for backup when he heard a gunshot, which was followed by groups of people fleeing from the parking lot and balcony of the hotel.
The officer then heard a second gunshot but he was unclear where the gunfire was coming from, police said. Additional South Brunswick officers, along with officers from North Brunswick and Milltown police, responded to the scene. Several people were detained but no weapon was recovered, police said.
Police were again called to the scene of a large party late Saturday night, this time at the Red Roof Inn near the intersection of Route 1 and New Road in Monmouth Junction.
At 10 p.m. about 10 South Brunswick Police officers went to the Red Roof Inn after receiving noise complaints, and found about 25 young people gathered in two separate rooms. Police spokesman Sgt. James Ryan said the individuals detained at the Red Rood Inn were comprised of residents from Franklin, North Brunswick and Rahway. Police believe the two parties at both the Hotel Vincenza and Red Roof Inn included many of the same people attending.
"In the course of the investigation, some information came out which corroborated that a person of interest at the Red Roof Inn may have had a handgun there and may have been involved with the shots being fired at the Hotel Vincenza the previous night," Sgt. Ryan said. "We did speak to a witness who confirmed the shooting the night before and we are currently seeking that person of interest who we do believe has gang ties."
Sgt. Ryan said police believe the gunshots fired Saturday morning at the Hotel Vincenza were part of an ongoing dispute, but could not release additional information so as not to compromise the investigation.
"What we have at this point is people from outside of our community coming into our hotels to rent them and party," Sgt. Ryan said. "There's really no accountability from these people. We had some similar incidents last spring with parties in hotels where we had to crackdown on underage drinking.
"These hotels have legitimate guests staying there who are being forced to complain each night. And we have these other people coming into South Brunswick to socialize in these hotel rooms or party, and they're bringing whatever affiliation they have with them. It's a problem and we're looking into it."
Two people were arrested Saturday morning on various charges for the incidents at the Hotel Vincenza. Several people were detained and questioned at the Red Roof Inn, though no people were arrested.
Sgt. Ryan said South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka would be holding a summit this week with the management of hotels located on Route 1 and Route 130 to discuss the ongoing problems.
"We're going to meet with the management of these hotels in the area to make sure they understand their legal requirements, such as taking identification for the people staying in these rooms," Sgt. Ryan said. "It's the responsibility of hotel management to notify us right away if they detect a problem from one of their rooms."
Sgt. Ryan said police would continue to investigate the events from Saturday morning involving gunfire and would take steps to prevent incidents like these from continuing.
"We've been at these locations and have developed a better understanding of the facts about what transpired during the incident Saturday morning," Sgt. Ryan said. "Some of the people from the incident at the Red Roof Inn gave us some more background information that helped move our investigation forward. We're also addressing our concerns with hotel management as far as allowing multiple people to congregate in their establishment."