For the third summer in a row, state police responded to an incident in the parking lot of Northbeach in Dewey. Unlike the previous two incidents, this time gunshots appear to have been fired.
Dewey Beach Sgt. Cliff Dempsey said in the early morning hours of June 1, at approximately 1:20 a.m., department police officers were patrolling the bayside of Dagsworthy Avenue when they heard what appeared to be two gunshots fired in the Northbeach parking lot.
The officers responded to the scene and noticed a large, disorderly crowd with several people fighting, said Dempsey in a press release.
“The officers were able to disperse the crowd with assistance from the Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Bethany Beach and Delaware State Police,” wrote Dempsey. The incident is currently under investigation and no suspects have been taken into custody at this time, he said.
Northbeach opened for the season May 20 with a three-day tribute to Prince.
Town Manager Marc Appelbaum confirmed an incident occurred, but he said he was still trying to straighten out the facts. He said he did not think it was one of the restaurant’s infamous $1-drink nights.
This is not the first time multiple police departments have been called to help the Dewey department, and a frustrated Appelbaum said he thought the issues at Northbeach had been solved last summer.
“Apparently not,” he said. “Some people think when lighting strikes the same spot two, three, four times, it’s a coincidence. There’s something about Tuesday night and Northbeach that’s combustible.”
Alex Pires, president of Highway One, the company that owns Northbeach, said there was no incident at Northbeach.
“Last night Northbeach hosted a party for University of Delaware graduates. It ended at 12:55 when Northbeach closed,” he said in an email.
In June 2014, a fight in the parking lot of Northbeach had Dewey Police Chief Sam Mackert telling council members he feared for the safety of his officers. That night, eight state police officers responded for an incident that took 45 minutes to clear. No more incidents occurred that summer.
In July 2015, Mackert, without naming any businesses, described another large fight at a bayside business on Dagsworthy Avenue - Northbeach and Highway One's Ivy are the only businesses in that location. He said an officer on foot patrol witnessed one man sucker punch another in the back of the head. Pepper spray was deployed twice by the state police, and the Rehoboth and Lewes police departments responded to distress calls from Dewey officers.
Following this incident, Highway One repaired two lights and installed at least four new lights on the parking lots that support Northbeach and Ivy.
The town also installed three mobile light pads - two on Dagsworthy Avenue and one on McKinley Avenue.
Dempsey said if anyone has any information regarding the June 1 investigation, they should contact the Dewey Beach Police Department at 302-227-1110 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333.