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Suspect charged for fatal punch killing NJ man outside diner

Suspect charged for fatal punch killing NJ man outside diner

A New Jersey man is facing an aggravated manslaughter charge after a 78-year-old man he allegedly punched in the parking lot of a diner died from his injuries, prosecutors said.

Edward Charles Chandler, 54, was initially charged with aggravated assault Thursday for punching Robert Clarke, of Whiting, in the head outside the Lakeside Diner Wednesday night, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said in a statement.

Chandler, of Manalapan, was then charged with aggravated manslaughter later Thursday after an autopsy found that Clarke died from a “closed head injury secondary to a fall” and determined his death to be a homicide.

“Based upon the medical examiner’s finding and information developed in furtherance of the continuing investigation, Chandler has been identified as the individual responsible for Mr. Clarke’s death, and has now been charged accordingly,” Billhimer said.

Lacey Township police responded to the diner at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and found Clarke unconscious and bleeding from his head from an apparent head wound. He was airlifted to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Billhimer said.

The assault took place after an argument between members of a motorcycle club broke out inside the diner, prompting the owner to ask them to leave, prosecutors said.

A second argument involving the same groups then erupted in the diner’s parking lot, where Chandler punched Clarke, knocking him to the ground and causing severe head trauma, Billhimer said.

It’s unclear if Chandler was a part of the biker gathering at the diner, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told The Post Friday.

The owner of the diner, meanwhile, said Clarke was a regular customer.

“He was a very, very good man,” Brian Brindisi told the Asbury Park Press. “It’s a horrible thing what happened to this man.”

Brindisi told a New Jersey radio station two women were involved in the second argument when he went outside to break up the melee.

“It seemed like they were at the point where they were splitting the two women up and this gentleman that lost his life was walking across the parking lot and another individual – I don’t know why or what happened – but he punched this guy,” Brindisi told WKXW. “When the guy hit the ground, he hit [his] head on the pavement.”

The fatal assault took place during the diner’s weekly “Bike Night” and the bikers involved were from a group called the “Wawa Crew” that formed during the pandemic, Brindisi said.

Chandler remained held without bail Friday at the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing, online records show.

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Devon is a fitness enthusiast who loves playing Golf in his free time. He keeps in touch with the Golf events happening all around the world and jots down fine news pieces for the website.

About the author

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Devon Bell

Devon is a fitness enthusiast who loves playing Golf in his free time. He keeps in touch with the Golf events happening all around the world and jots down fine news pieces for the website.

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