OCEAN CITY – The resort is coming to grips with a spate of violent incidents that began with a stabbing on the Boardwalk early last Sunday morning and peaked with a severe beating of a man during a larger incident early Wednesday morning.
It’s not unusual to have serious incidents, assaults and other unruly behavior in early to mid-June in Ocean City when recent graduates and other young people come in large numbers. Thus far this month, however, the incidents have been decidedly more frequent and more violent than last year, for example.
In a span of four days starting with a stabbing on the Boardwalk on Sunday, continuing with another stabbing on Tuesday and culminating with a major altercation that included the severe beating of a young man on Wednesday, the Boardwalk area was essentially a battle zone in the late night and early morning hours. The Wednesday incident was captured in a video that went viral on social media, resulting in an emergency, closed session meeting of the police commission to re-evaluate enforcement efforts.
Around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) responded to a fight involving multiple people on the Boardwalk between 6th and 7th streets. During that incident, one unnamed individual was stabbed and was taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. The victim’s status in unknown.
Two suspects are still wanted in connection with that incident. The City Watch video surveillance system captured still images of the suspects that are being circulated through the community and on social media platforms. Anyone with information on the Sunday incident is urged to contact Detective Carl Perry at CRPerry@oceancitymd.gov or at 410-723-6604. Anonymous tips can also be left through the OCPD website or by calling 410-520-5136.
On Tuesday, OCPD officers responded to two simultaneous serious assaults on the Boardwalk, one at 11th Street and another at 15th Street. Around 11:20 p.m., OCPD officers responded to a reported stabbing that had just occurred. The victim was transported to PRMC for treatment and severity of the victim’s injuries are not known.
Again, still images of the two suspects wanted in connection of both of those incidents were captured on video surveillance and are being circulated through various mediums. Anyone with information on those incidents is urged to contact Detective Perry through the above-mentioned contact information.
Just after midnight on Wednesday, the recent violence reached a crescendo when a fight broke out on the Boardwalk between large groups of young adults. At least one young man was punched repeatedly in the face while sitting on a Boardwalk bench to the point he fell unconscious. Other skirmishes broke out during the larger altercation which carried over to the beach area.
A video of the incident captured by a witness and posted on social media went viral and left many in the community with more questions than answers. After the serious incident on Wednesday, Mayor Rick Meehan said the town and the OCPD were acting quickly to address the ongoing violent situation.
“The past few days have been extremely difficult for our community and our police department,” he said. “The safety of our residents and visitors remains our number-one priority. We are equally horrified by the actions displayed on social media videos depicting violence and unruly crowds. This behavior has no place in Ocean City and violence like this will not be tolerated. The town and the OCPD are working immediately on addressing this disturbing behavior.”
To that end, a special meeting of the Ocean City Police Commission including the OCPD was hastily pulled together for Wednesday afternoon. The virtual meeting convened at 1 p.m. at which time Council President Lloyd Martin quickly announced the police commission would continue the meeting in a closed session.
According to the agenda packet, the reason for the Police Commission to meet in closed session is to “discuss public security if the public body determines that public discussion would constitute a risk to the public or public security including the deployment of fire and police services and staff and the development and implementation of emergency plans. This exception is being invoked to evaluate and coordinate police enforcement measures.”
While the details of that closed session police commission meeting have not yet been made public, Meehan said on Thursday the gist of it was how best to deploy resources.
“The violence and unruly behavior seen on social media has no place in Ocean City,” he said. “Breaking of our laws will not be tolerated. We held an emergency police commission meeting yesterday to address our enforcement strategies and deployment techniques. Our top priority is to keep our residents and visitors safe and we are going to use every resource available to do so.”