Man Charged With First-Degree Assault In Brawl

OCEAN CITY — A New Jersey man faces two counts of first-degree assault this week after allegedly threatening a couple with a knife during a fight near 45th Street last Friday.

Around 10:30 p.m. last Friday, Ocean City Police on uniformed patrol in the area of 45th Street Village were flagged down by a citizen who advised the officers there was a fight in progress on the north end of the shopping center parking lot. The officers responded to the area and found a large group of individuals actively fighting on the sidewalk and in the parking lot.

The OCPD officer observed one of the fighters had another man, later identified as Justin Racelis, 30, of Oxford, N.J., in a headlock. The officer activated his Taser, targeted the two men and identified himself as a police officer while ordering them to get down on the ground. Racelis immediately laid down on the ground and placed his hands behind his back. While Racelis was being detained, the officer located a folding pen knife on the ground about three feet from the suspect.

After others responded and the melee was under control, an OCPD officer was approached by a female victim who said she and her boyfriend, who was the man involved in the fight when officers first arrived on the scene, had been accosted by Racelis who was armed with a knife. The female victim said she was walking north on the sidewalk in the area of 45th Street with her boyfriend when they were approached by Racelis and two other men.

The female victim said Racelis opened a knife and slashed at her, cutting the grocery bag she had in her hand. Officers then interviewed the male victim, who also said the couple was approached by Racelis and two other men, who were making comments about his girlfriend and two other females in the group.

The male victim said a verbal argument ensued, during which Racelis allegedly pulled out a folding knife, opened it and threatened him with it by thrusting the knife at him in a stabbing motion. Based on the victims’ testimony, Racelis was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment.

Racelis was held initially on a $25,000 bond before being released from commitment. A preliminary hearing has been set for Oct. 30.