SHAMOKIN - A police officer suffered injuries early Friday during a melee involving three intoxicated men outside a city tavern that reportedly started when one of the combatants took a swing at a woman leaving the bar.

Christopher W. Lloyd, 36, of 627 E. Packer St.; his brother, Robert Watts Jr., 27, of 625 E. Packer St., and Jack W. Grove, 44, of 918 E. Kase St., are behind bars today after being charged with felony offenses in the 12:41 a.m. assault that required police from three communities to quell.

Patrolman Mark Costa, who attempted to break up the fracas, suffered injuries to his knees and hand during the incident in the 500 block of North Shamokin Street near Snappers Bar. Costa's police jacket was also torn in the altercation.

Upon arriving at the scene, only a block away from the police station, Costa and Cpl. Bryan Primerano spotted Lloyd and Watts arguing in the middle of Spurzheim Street. Witnesses told police Lloyd had been causing a disturbance and chasing a female at Snappers.

While Primerano was attempting to speak with Lloyd and calm him down, Watts reportedly yelled, "Leave my (expletive) brother alone," and attempted to stop police from speaking with him.

After police repeatedly advised Lloyd and Watts to calm down and leave the area, Grove approached the officers and attempted to separate them from his two friends, according to the criminal complaint.

Police said Lloyd staggered away from police, walking north on Shamokin Street.

Resisting arrest

A female witness told police Lloyd had been chasing a female up Shamokin Street prior to their arrival. Police then warned Watts and Grove to go home while they dealt with Lloyd, who they later located at Shamokin and Independence streets leaning into the passenger window of a parked vehicle occupied by a female in the driver's seat.

After Primerano told Lloyd he was under arrest and attempted to handcuff him, Watts came up behind Primerano and interfered with the arrest, according to police. At this point, Costa told Watts he was under arrest. Police said Watts then pushed Costa away and resisted arrest when the officer attempted to handcuff him.

Costa tackled Watts to the ground while Watts attempted to punch the officer in the face and chest while tearing his coat. Police said Watts continued to fight as Primerano attempted to handcuff him. Lloyd and Grove then came to help Watts and became aggressive toward the officers, prompting Costa to deploy OC spray on all three men.

Police estimated they warned the three men 10 times to stop resisting arrest, but they failed to listen.

Assisting Costa and Primerano in the arrest of Lloyd, Watts and Grove were emergency medical technicians from AREA Services Ambulance, Coal Township Patrolmen Chris Lapotsky and Matthew Hashuga and Ralpho Township Officer Chris Grow.

'I'm gonna kill you'

An unidentified female witness/victim told police she was walking down Shamokin Street when Lloyd called her derogatory names. The witness said she attempted to get away from Lloyd, who ran up to her and got in front of her. Lloyd then took a swing at the witness, but she was able to duck and run away for help.

The woman told police she doesn't know Lloyd and said the incident was a random, unprovoked attack.

Another unidentified female witness told police approximately six women came into Snappers Bar and reported a man was taking swings at them in an attempt to assault them. The witness said she then went outside and saw Lloyd, who shouted, "(Expletive) you, I'm gonna kill you."

After the witness told Lloyd she was going to call police, she said Lloyd and Watts got into an altercation.

Charges

Lloyd and Watts were charged by Primerano and Costa with felonies of aggravated assault, riot, criminal conspiracy to cause a riot, and misdemeanors of simple assault, resisting arrest and failure of disorderly persons to disperse. Lloyd also was charged with an additional count of simple assault.

Grove was charged with riot, criminal conspiracy to cause a riot, resisting arrest and failure of disorderly conduct persons to disperse.

Lloyd and Watts were arraigned at 7:45 a.m. Friday by on-call Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III and committed to Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury in lieu of $75,000 and $50,000 cash bail. Grove was committed to the county jail on a probation detainer.

The trio are scheduled to face a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning before Gembic.

Not the Goon Squad

Chief of Police Edward Griffiths said, "The disturbance involved three men who were drunk and resisted arrest. Unfortunately, Officer Costa suffered minor injuries in the incident. But it was in no way related to the other two recent fights and has no ties to the Goon Squad."

An 18-year-old Shamokin man and four juveniles were charged in connection with the Feb. 23 assault of an 18-year-old city male in the 400 block of East Independence Street.

Six adults also were charged earlier this week in a March 1 fight in the first block of South Market Street.