A Burlington County man accused of harassing Black neighbors in a racist rant has been charged with stalking them and damaging their vehicles with slingshots and a BB gun, authorities announced Thursday.
Edward Cagney Mathews, 45, of Mount Laurel, faces a host of additional charges, including criminal mischief, stalking, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a weapon, County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Mount Laurel Police Chief Stephen Riedener said in a statement.
Mathews was arrested Monday after protesters converged on his home in the 3600 block of Gramercy Way after a video of a racist-laden confrontation between Mathews and a neighbor went viral. Mathews dared people to “come see me” and dozens showed up.
Authorities said the new charges were brought after Mount Laurel police searched Mathews’ two-story condominium in the Essex Place development. Police seized a slingshot and multiple ball bearings that matched projectiles used to damage neighbors’ vehicles, causing $2,500 in damage, the statement said. Mathews is also accused of stalking one of the vehicle owners.
Police also seized numerous psilocybin mushrooms, known for their hallucinogenic effect, as well as packaging materials, the prosecutor said. Mathews was also charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession with intent to distribute.
Mathews was charged on July 2 with harassing his neighbors after confrontations in which he hurled racial slurs and made lewd gestures. He was released on a summons and given a court date, and that angered some residents who wanted Mathews arrested.
The video that captured the altercation went viral and protesters began showing up Monday morning. The crowd swelled to more than 150 people, some chanting for Mathews to come outside. As the crowd grew, police stood guard in front of Mathews’ house.
Mathews told The Inquirer in an interview Monday that he was drunk during the racist tirade and apologized.
Coffina said a municipal court judge denied a request to issue a warrant for Mathews on July 2, which would have allowed police to take him into custody. He was initially charged with bias intimidation, harassment, and trespassing stemming from two encounters with neighbors.
Mathews was taken into custody on Monday after authorities reviewed the video and other evidence, Coffina said. Superior Court Judge Terrence Cook signed a warrant for Mathews’ arrest. Mathews was led out in handcuffs before a cheering crowd who pelted him and police with plastic bottles and debris.
The Prosecutor’s Office is conducting an independent review of all previous incidents reported to Mount Laurel police involving Mathews. It is also reviewing how the department handled the July 2 incidents.
Mathews is being held in the county jail in Mount Holly. A detention hearing scheduled for Friday has been postponed until Tuesday because of the additional charges.