Diner fight that turned deadly was because of ‘Wawa Crew’ motorcycle club, cops say

Noble Horvath

A fight outside an Ocean County diner that led to a man’s death was sparked by an argument over the victim’s friend being kicked out of a motorcycle club called the “Wawa Crew,” court documents show. Edward Chandler, 54, of Manalapan, is charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of […]

A fight outside an Ocean County diner that led to a man’s death was sparked by an argument over the victim’s friend being kicked out of a motorcycle club called the “Wawa Crew,” court documents show.

Edward Chandler, 54, of Manalapan, is charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of Robert Clarke, 78, of Whiting, after he punched Clarke during an argument outside the Lakeside Diner in Lacey Township last week, causing Clarke to fall, hit his head and later die.

The incident began after Clarke arrived at the diner to eat with a female friend for a birthday celebration, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Lacey Township police.

At the diner, Clarke’s friend started an argument with the leaders of a motorcycle club called the “Wawa Crew” over her being kicked out of the group, the affidavit says.

The owner of the diner told those involved in the argument to leave the restaurant, and another verbal fight started in the diner parking lot, the court filing says.

During the fight, Clarke was walking toward one of the leaders of the motorcycle club and Chandler told police he heard someone yell “knife,” so he punched Clarke in the face, according to the affidavit.

“(Chandler) admitted to striking the victim one time in the face and heard someone yell ‘knife’. He admitted that he did not see a knife when he struck Robert Clarke,” the document said.

Clarke was flown unconscious to Jersey Shore Medical Center and died about six hours later. A post-mortem examination of Clarke found his cause of death to be a “close head injury secondary to fall” and the manner of death to be homicide, the affidavit says.

The diner where the assault occurred was cited numerous times in August for violating Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order banning indoor dining.

Chandler’s detention hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday. He is being held in Ocean County Jail.

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Avalon Zoppo may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @AvalonZoppo.

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