New Jersey man Matthew Sofka, 26, has been formally charged in a fight that broke out between two wedding parties at the Society Hill Sheraton early Sunday morning and was caught on camera in a cell phone video uploaded to YouTube.
Sofka, of Westfield, N.J., was arraigned at 5:15 p.m. yesterday, court documents show. He was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, failure to disperse upon official order, disorderly conduct in a physical or hazardous manner and disorderly conduct while engaging in fighting.
Police said yesterday that Sofka, who they described as "the main combatant," is the man that can be seen on the video fighting with a police sergeant, who is wearing a white shirt. They said that Sofka was wrestled to the ground by officers and needed to be Tasered to be subdued.
The person who filmed the one-minute-and-13-second video of the throwdown – which has since gone viral, with nearly 830,000 views – can at one point be heard saying to the crowd of combatants, "It's my frikkin' birthday – go to bed!" He has been identified as Max Schultz of Camp Hill, Pa.,who was in town with his parents celebrating his 15th birthday.
The fight in the lobby near the hotel bar first broke out around 1:30 a.m. among family members of one wedding party, according to authorities. It then spilled over to involve members of a second wedding party who were returning from an off-site reception to stay at the hotel. Police said yesterday that alcohol played a big factor in the brawl. They estimate that, at one point, between 75 and 100 people were involved.
The bride and groom of one wedding party have been identified as a Jersey City couple, 28-year-old Nicole Sannuti, a vice president of asset management human resources at Credit Suisse, and Newtown Capital Management business developer Michael Sofka, 29. Both went to St. Joseph's University and currently live in Jersey City, according to online profiles.
A 57-year-old guest suffered a heart attack as he stepped outside the hotel. He has been identified as Vincent Sannuti of Huntingdon Valley, reportedly the uncle of the bride. He died at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital shortly before 3 a.m. Police said yesterday that they believe he was involved in the fight, though the nature of his involvement is unclear.
Sofka was released yesterday after partially posting $25,000 unsecured bail. He is next due in court for a preliminary hearing Oct. 25. Two other men allegedly involved in the melee were given summary disorderly conduct citations Sunday morning, according to police. Investigators said they expect to make more arrests in the incident after interviewing witnesses and thoroughly reviewing the video.
Meanwhile, the sergeant who can be seen attempting to control the crowd on the video is gaining national attention after NBC News and Good Day televised some of his Facebook posts discussing the incident. Sgt. Sean Dandridge, listed as an official with the 22nd District, wrote that he has a slight concussion, but is expected to be fine. He marveled at the media attention the incident is garnering, thanked well-wishers and said that he is proud of the way he and his fellow officers handled the volatile situation.
Police ID N.J. man Tasered, charged in Society Hill Sheraton wedding brawl
VIDEO: Guest suffers fatal heart attack following wedding brawl at Society Hill Sheraton