Mayor and Police Chief propose new safety measures after officer assaulted at Pagoda

Mayor Eddie Morán and Police Chief Eli Vazquez held a press conference at City Hall Monday afternoon in response to an incident that escalated to violence against a Reading Police officer Saturday at the Pagoda.

During the press conference, Mayor Morán expressed his frustration over frequent disturbances at the Pagoda, primarily occurring during weekend evenings. “Too often, individuals gather with the intent of partying, resulting in loud and disruptive behavior that tarnishes our community’s reputation,” Morán stated. He emphasized that only a few individuals out of these groups are responsible for these disturbances, which have included damage to public facilities and significant noise pollution.

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Morán also recounted various unsuccessful attempts to mitigate the problem, including increased police patrols by city and county departments and contracting a private security company. Even closing the Pagoda’s entrance gates in the evenings proved insufficient.

As a result, the mayor stated he is now moving forward to seek approval for installing higher gates at each entrance to the Pagoda. In addition, he proposed closing the area throughout the weekends as necessary.

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Reflecting on the situation, Morán said, “This behavior is unacceptable, and we’re done tolerating it. These measures may seem harsh, but they are necessary to stop this disruptive and dangerous behavior.”

Police Chief Vazquez provided a detailed account of the events that unfolded on June 8th. At approximately 8:05 PM, officers working on an illegal dirt bike initiative responded to reports of a large group of motorcyclists, ATV’s and dirtbike riders causing a disturbance near the Pagoda. The group, estimated to be over 200 individuals, included riders from Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York.

In an attempt to disperse the crowd, a Reading Police Officer tried to arrest a suspect for a criminal act and was met with resistance. The situation escalated as other individuals in the crowd interfered, with at least one other person even assaulting the officer. Despite suffering multiple bruises and a bleeding nose, the officer called for backup, and 11 officers arrived to assist in dispersing the group. The suspect, identified as Lewis Mellow Castillo of the 900 block of Reading, was arrested and faces several charges.

Chief Vazquez say the investigation into the incident is ongoing and the department is commitment to reducing dirt bike-related disturbances. “We will continue our efforts and will not tolerate assaults on our officers. We’re grateful that the officer is okay, as this could have turned deadly,” Vazquez remarked.

Reading Police have seized over 12 illegal dirt bikes and made 14 arrests in recent weeks as part of their special enforcement detail.

Both officials called for community assistance during the press conference, encouraging residents to report any information on future gatherings or hidden vehicles to the police. Residents can contact the Reading Police Department at 610-655-6116 with any relevant information.

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