Tattoo man’s ruckus at rink not a hate crime, Toms River cops say
TOMS RIVER — A man unhappy that a friend's jersey had been taken down from the walls of the Winding River Ice Rink disrupted a game at the rink on Saturday night so much that police had to be called.
According to police, a Jewish men's hockey league game was underway on Saturday night when the man, who was not identified, entered the arena and became disruptive. Employees at the rink described the man as having a shaved head with multiple tattoos, and told police he was making obscene hand gestures as he entered the building.
The disturbance continued as he got closer to the ice and started taunting the players during their game, ripping his shirt off and yelling at them some more. There were initial reports that the man had a swastika tattoo, which was revealed when he took off his shirt. However, police said early Sunday morning when he was located by police that was deemed to not be the case.
Police said the entire incident lasted only five minutes before the man left. After being called to the rink, officers spoke with players and employees, according to the police department. All the people interviewed said that while they heard the man yelling, they "heard no specific language, comments, or threats."
According to police, when the man was located early Sunday morning he told the officers that he had gone to the rink to see if his friend's jersey was still hanging there, and was upset when he realized it was not. He also said he was "not satisfied with the skill of the players on the ice," according to police.
Rather than swastikas tattooed on his body, police reported the man had hockey related tattoos, which he voluntarily showed them. The man told police he did not know that a Jewish league was playing at the time, and was allowed to leave after speaking with officers.
Toms River Police Department spokesman Ralph Stocco told Townsquare Media New Jersey News that while there were reports of the rink being locked down after the man left, employees had just locked the door when the man left "in case he tried to get back in." Stocco also said officers stayed at the facility until it closed because the man had not been located at that point.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com