Story updated on Friday, March 30, at 2:45 p.m.
Six people were arrested and 24 people were taken to area hospitals after a crowd outside of The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair erupted into mayhem Thursday night, police said today.
The crowd of young adults was estimated at around 2,500 and required the assistance of several local police departments to restore order and get them to disperse after problems began around 7:35 p.m. on Seymour Street.
Police said Friday that the revelers assaulted police officers, appeared to be drunk or on drugs, and that at least one person reported being bitten during the melee.
Montclair Mayor Jerry Fried described the mayhem that ensued during The Barstool Blackout Tour as an "unfortunate and unusual situation. The Wellmont has become such an important institution. This was a poorly conceived event and this was an aberration. It was not a disaster thanks to law enforcement cooperation but it was an unfortunate mess. We have to work with the Wellmont to make sure this type of thing doesn't happen again."
Managers of the Wellmont said they were deeply disappointed with the events that took place.
"As with all shows at the Wellmont, the safety and well-being of our patrons is always the highest priority, which led to the joint decision by local police, Wellmont management and theatre security to shut down the show due to unruly patrons," a statement said. "At that time, there were 765 patrons inside the venue, and approximately 500 people outside the theatre, well within the Wellmont's legal capacity of 2,000-plus."
For last night's show, the Wellmont Theatre had added security measures in place including electronic identification scanning, body search for any contraband, an 18+ minimum age, and a midnight curfew.
All tickets for the Barstool Blackout Tour will be refunded at the point of purchase, management said.
"The Wellmont Theatre has a successful multi-year history producing 500 events with nearly 400,000 patrons, including shows with world-renowned
artists such as Steely Dan, Celtic Thunder, Levon Helm, Emmylou Harris, Chicago, and Ryan Adams," they added.
According to a statement from Montclair police, they arrived at the Wellmont around 7:35 p.m., saw the large crowd and also knew the event was sold out. The crowd had become unruly while waiting to get inside and police called for assistance from other departments.
While on the scene, police reported they saw:
- A 22-year-old Bedminster woman who said she’d been bitten on the calf. She was treated and released.
- Several people in line showed signs of being intoxicated or of having used illicit drugs. They were stumbling or couldn’t stand.
- A 19-year-old South Amboy woman was discovered by police passed out against a fence near the theater and the crowd was in danger of stepping on her. She was taken to Mountainside Hospital.
- Others were injured when the crowd began shoving its way to the front of the line and several people fell over barricades.
After witnessing this, Montclair Police became concerned about the safety of the people there and cancelled the event, asking for help from other local police to disperse the crowd. When the police tried to disperse the crowd, some people got angry and began to fight with police.
Those arrested included:
- Police arrested 20-year-old Louis Garcia of Fairview who allegedly shoved a police officer who was trying to shove his way past the officer. The officer and Garcia struggled. Garcia was arrested and the officer received injuries to her head and knee. He was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, but was later released.
- Ernest Pereira IV, 20, of Fairview was also arrested after he allegedly spit in the face of a police detective. Police had approached him because they saw he was trying to get others in the crowd to fight with him and noticed an odor of alcohol on his breath. He was arrested and charged with was charged with throwing bodily fluids at a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. Bail was set at $2,500.
- Cody Russo, 19, of West Caldwell was arrested after he allegedly jumped on the back of a police officer who was trying to arrest someone. Russo was wrestled to the ground and arrested. The police officer received a wrist injury and Russo was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. He was later released.
- Paterson resident Kevin Niebrzydowski, 22, was issued a summons at 8:30 p.m. for shoving people. He was later released.
- Michael Nunez, 20, of Secaucus was arrested for simple assault after he was seen fighting with another person at Bloomfield Avenue and Lackawanna Plaza. The other man had an eye and mouth injury. Nunez was later released.
There were no further details on any additional arrests.
Montclair police received aid from the following towns: Nutley, Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, West Orange, Verona, North Caldwell and Fairfield. In addition, Port Authority, Montclair State University and NJ Transit police officers also responded. Ambulances from Verona, Glen Ridge and Montclair responded to the scene.