Police close St. Thomas More fest early after fight breaks out in crowd

2014-06-23T17:20:00Z 2014-06-24T21:46:08Z Police close St. Thomas More fest early after fight breaks out in crowdLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

MUNSTER | Police from four communities worked to shut down the St. Thomas More Parish Festival Sunday night after a fight broke out there, police said.

Lt. Ed Strbjak, spokesman for the Munster Police Department, said off-duty police officers working security at the church at 8501 Calumet Ave. responded around 9:15 p.m. to a verbal argument between two groups of juveniles there which quickly escalated into a shoving match.

Strbjak said the verbal argument began with just two juveniles and as officers were talking to them, shoving matches started with others nearby. When officers responded to the shoving match, other physical altercations ensued.

"Due to the size of the crowd and in the interest of public safety, we had to shut it down early," Strbjak said.

One juvenile from Hammond was arrested. Charges of disorderly conduct and battery of a law enforcement officer are pending, Strbjak said.

Munster police and St. Thomas More representatives agreed to shut the festival down for the night. The festival was scheduled to close at 10 p.m.

Police from Lansing, Dyer and Highland were called to help disperse the crowds.

Strbjak said the early closure was unfortunate, but necessary.

"The good people always suffer," he said. "It's a shame, but because we did stop it, there were no serious injuries and we stopped it before it could escalate."

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