Wedding parties clash in Society Hill, leading to a death and charges

Posted: October 09, 2012

First came the bride, then the party, then police swinging their nightsticks.

When the melee in Society Hill was over early Sunday morning, one wedding guest was dead from an apparent heart attack.

And it was all caught on a video posted on YouTube.

"Did someone just deck the bride?" is heard on the video of the chaos at the Sheraton Hotel as Philadelphia police break up the brawl.

Although who was hit can't be clearly seen, police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said it was not the bride, but rather a bridesmaid who had been "running her mouth."

In either case, this is one wedding night that won't be easily forgotten by the bride – or make that two brides. Guests from two separate receptions - one at the Sheraton at Second and Walnut Streets, the other elsewhere - converged at the Sheraton for post-nuptial activities that were far from romantic.

The video shows baton-wielding police knocking down men in suits and women in gowns against a sound track of screaming and shattering glass.

The night ended with two wedding guests charged with disorderly conduct. A third was taken into custody with charges pending Sunday. Evers said investigators were trying to determine whether the victim of the heart attack, said to be in his 50s, had been involved with the fight.

Evers did not release names of anyone in the wedding parties or those arrested. He said police were also reviewing the video, and any other available images, to see whether others should be charged. Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey reviewed the use of force and decided it was not excessive given the rowdy crowd, Evers said.

Evers said police initially were called about 1:30 a.m. when guests at the Sheraton reception moved the party to the bar and got into a fight. That's when the guests from the other reception showed up and it turned into a free-for-all.

"It went into a triple assist," Evers said, adding that officers were outnumbered, assaulted, and unable to get control before calling for backup.

One guest was so wild that an officer used his Taser gun, Evers said, calling it a "chaotic" scene.

"It was an alcohol-fueled battle between wedding parties," Evers said. "It got very out of hand very quickly."


A wedding reception descends into chaos at www.philly.com/melee


Contact Barbara Boyer at 856-779-3838, bboyer@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @bbboyer.

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