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Police: 3 Yorkers locked up on $1M bail each after Lancaster 'riot'

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Three York County residents accused by police of being "main instigators" in a civil disturbance in Lancaster City on Sunday night remain locked up on $1 million bail each, according to court records.

They are among 13 people jailed after being accused of committing crimes while protesting a fatal police shooting there, according to a Lancaster Police news release.

Yoshua Dwayne Montague, 23, of Friendship Avenue in Hallam; Barry Marshall Jones III, 30, of Chesterbrook Drive in Manchester Township; and Talia Gessner, 18, of Woodmont Drive in Manchester Township are all charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor offenses.

Their charges include arson, rioting, institutional vandalism, failing to obey orders to disperse, obstructing roadways and public passages, defiant trespass and numerous counts of criminal conspiracy.

Montague  also is charged with the third-degree felony of carrying a firearm without a license.

Black Lives Matter protesters block West Chestnut Street at North Prince Street near the Lancaster city police station on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. A man was shot by police earlier in the day after a reported domestic dispute, police said. A Lancaster city police officer fired at a 27-year-old man who was armed with a knife. The man, identified as Ricardo Munoz, was killed and pronounced dead at the scene, Blaine Shahan, LNP/LancasterOnline via AP)

His charging documents allege that when arrested, he was carrying a .45-caliber Springfield handgun in his right front pants pocket. He does not possess a state concealed-weapons permit, documents state.

Otherwise, charging documents for the three York County residents are nearly identical.

An email from the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania quotes its executive director, Reggie Shuford, as calling the $1 million bail for Black Lives Matter protesters "an egregious and unacceptable abuse of the bail system."

"Cash bail should never be used to deter demonstrators and chill speech," Shuford said. "We demand answers from Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams and from Magisterial District Judge Bruce Roth, who set the bail amount."

On Tuesday, Lancaster County DA's office spokesperson Brett Hambright said Adams and her office had no input into the bail amounts. Adams is a former York County prosecutor.

Yoshua Dwayne Montague

A message seeking comment was left by The York Dispatch at Roth's office on  Tuesday was not immediately returned.

The allegations: Upward of 300 people had congregated near the corner of West Chestnut and North Prince streets in Lancaster City on Sunday night to protest the fatal police shooting of Ricardo Munoz.

Lancaster City's police station is at 39 W. Chestnut St.

Protesters blocked traffic, "threw bricks, rocks, glass bottles (and) plastic water bottles at the officers and police station building," charging documents allege.

The glass on the station's front door was broken out, as was a large window in the media room, police allege. The windows of an unmarked Lancaster County detective vehicle also were smashed, police said, adding estimated damage for all the broken windows is $6,000.

People chant during a protest at the scene of a police shooting on Laurel Street and Union Street in Lancaster city on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. A man was shot by police earlier in the day after a reported domestic dispute, police said. A Lancaster City police officer fired at a 27-year-old man who was armed with a knife. The man, identified as Ricardo Munoz, was killed and pronounced dead at the scene.
(Andy Blackburn/LNP/LancasterOnline via AP)

About 2:30 a.m. Monday morning, "subjects in the crowd stacked a pile of debris in the middle of the intersection" that included signs and a Dumpster, then lit the pile on fire, documents allege.

Montague, Jones and Gessner were identified by officers as "main instigators" in the arson and alleged rioting, charging documents state.

Officers witnessed all three of them "throwing listed items at police, failing to disperse when ordered, and/or adding items to the fire in the street," documents state.

The 13 defendants jailed during the civil disturbance range in age from 16 to 43 years old, according to The Associated Press.

Barry Marshall Jones III

Police shooting: The protests are over the shooting death by police of 27-year-old Ricardo Munoz, whose sister had called authorities in hopes of having him involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, the AP reported.

Lancaster Police have made public the officer’s body camera video. It showed Munoz approaching the officer with the knife in what appeared to be a menacing manner, before the officer shot and killed him.

Police said it happened about 4:15 p.m. Sunday in the 300 block of Laurel Street and that Munoz's sister reported he was becoming aggressive with his mother and trying to break into her home.

Talia Gessner

Munoz chased the officer while holding a knife, and the officer shot him, according to police.

Munoz had been out on bail, awaiting trial for allegations he stabbed four people last year, including a teenage boy who was stabbed in the face, the AP reported.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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