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N.J.: Vacationing Pa. officer beaten in suspected hate crime

The Associated Press

SEA ISLE CITY, New Jersey- A vacationing police officer who is black was beaten with a baseball bat in what authorities called a hate crime, and three men have been charged.

The three young men, all white, were charged in Tuesday's beating of the officer from Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. The officer was treated at a hospital and released.

Jarreau Francis, 25, was walking in the Sea Isle City beach town with two white colleagues at 3 a.m. when he was attacked. One or more suspects beat him in the head with the bat, made racial slurs and threatened him, police said.

"They didn't know he was an off-duty police officer. Just the fact that he was black was the target of this whole incident here," Sea Isle Police Detective Jon Gansert told WCAU-TV.

A second officer was struck while trying to intervene, officials said. The suspects ran but were quickly arrested.

Vince J. Giordano, 21, of Moorestown, New Jersey, a lacrosse player for the University of Delaware, was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and bias intimidation. Charged with the same counts were Keith Hoffman, 23, of Folcroft, Pennsylvania; and Thomas Russo, 21, of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.

Giordano was released after posting bail, and the others were being held in lieu of $35,000 (euro27,318) bail.

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