$1M bails reduced for three Yorkers charged in alleged Lancaster riot

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A Lancaster judge has reduced his original $1 million bail determinations in the cases of three York County residents charged with felony offenses after a civil disturbance on Sunday night that Lancaster City Police maintain devolved into rioting.

All three had been held in Lancaster County Prison and were among 13 people who were jailed while protesting a fatal police shooting.

On Thursday, District Judge Bruce Roth reduced bail amounts for Yoshua Dwayne Montague, Barry Marshall Jones III and Talia Gessner, according to court records.

Bail for Montague, 23, of Friendship Avenue in Hallam, was reduced to $100,000, and a bail-bonding agent has posted the required 10% to free Montague, according to court records.

Bail for Jones, 30, of Chesterbrook Drive in Manchester Township, was reduced to $100,000 unsecured, court records state. That means he didn't have to post any cash to be freed but could forfeit that amount if he misses court proceedings.

Bail for Gessner, 18, of Woodmont Drive in Manchester Township, was reduced to $50,000, records state, and a bail-bonding agent has posted the required 10% to secure her prison release.

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)

Attorneys for Jones and Gessner could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon. Montague's attorney, Ben Vanasse, said he could not yet speak publicly about the case.

Felony charges: The trio's 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.

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 allege.

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

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has said that the initial $1 million bail determinations for the Black Lives Matter protesters were "an egregious and unacceptable abuse of the bail system."

Barry Marshall Jones III

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.

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.

Talia Gessner

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 allege.

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

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

Yoshua Dwayne Montague

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.

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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