In a joint statement, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Lacey Township Chief of Police Christopher Kenny announced that on November 28, 2023, Alexander Gerber, 19, and Connor Dougherty, 20, both of Lacey Township, were charged with Arson and four counts of Criminal Mischief in connection with a series of incidents that occurred between November 21, 2023 and November 28, 2023, in Lacey Township.
On November 21 2023, Lacey Township Police Officers – while on routine patrol – discovered a fire in the women’s restroom in Gille Park.
The Lanoka Harbor Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire. An investigation by the Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office determined that the fire had been intentionally set with an open flame to combustible material.
On November 26, 2023, Lacey Township Police Officers responded to Gille Park for a report of criminal mischief. Responding Officers discovered graffiti, including swastikas, spray painted in various locations in the park. Officers likewise discovered damage to the women’s restroom door in the park.
On November 28, 2023, Lacey Township Police Officers found graffiti, which included swastikas, on a clothing bin located at the Mill Pond Basketball Courts, as well as on the rear of the ShopRite building located on North Main Street.
An investigation by the Lacey Township Police Department led to the identification a Chevrolet pickup truck as being associated with one of the incidents. On November 28, 2023, at approximately 3:25 p.m., Officers from the Lacey Township Police Department identified the subject pickup truck traveling on Deerhead Lake Drive. Officers effectuated a motor vehicle stop and observed Gerber to be operating the vehicle. Gerber was taken into custody without incident and transported to Lacey Township Police Headquarters.
Further investigation revealed that Gerber and Dougherty acted together and in support of one another in setting fire in the women’s restroom and damaging the restroom door at Gille Park, and spray painting the graffiti at all three locations.
Dougherty turned himself in to Lacey Township Police Headquarters on November 28, 2023. Both Gerber and Dougherty were charged accordingly on that date, and transported to the Ocean County Jail where they are presently lodged pending a detention hearing.