A Pennsylvania couple’s marriage got off to perhaps the rockiest possible start when their ceremony degenerated into an all-out wedding brawl involving police from sixteen different departments.
The trouble at the Blue Falls Grove receptions venue–in Onatelaunee Township PA–began when one woman approached a mother to point out that her 14-year-old son was drunk. An argument ensued, and the mother wound up punching the woman in the face. Another guest saw this encounter, and, after she inquired regarding the trouble, found herself also punched in the face by the mother.
From there, the wedding brawl exploded like a food fight in a high school comedy, and Doug Mehrkam, owner of Blue Falls Grove, knew he had to have outside assistance. “I just saw three groups separating and fighting, and at that point I realized I needed some help. They were all pushing and shoving each other and it looked like it was getting nasty.”
The first officers to arrive were “berated and threatened…by numerous intoxicated individuals,” and did all they could to keep things from getting even farther out of hand before backup arrived. They charged the Grohs–the parents of the drunken 14-year-old–with corruption of minors, furnishing alcohol to minors, simple assault, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, and obstruction of justice. (The boy’s blood-alcohol level was later found to be .16 percent, or exactly twice the legal limit in Pennsylvania.)
There were already “[numerous] people were scattered on the grounds, some of them shirtless and bloodied,” and a handful of fights that seemed to be gaining intensity. One of these was started by the groom, 31-year-old Nicholas Papoutsis. Papoutsis challenged the officers to a fight when they approached him.
Said Officer Showalter, whose report must read like a dime-store crime novel classic, “I tried reasoning with him, telling him that he didn’t really want to get arrested on his wedding night.” But Papoutsis was well beyond the point of reason, so he, too, was cuffed and thrown into a squad car.
As for his bride, she was found in a heap on the ground. Officers asked her if she had been injured, to which she responded that she was fine physically, but “was just very upset at what happened.”
Paramedics treated her for alcohol poisoning and dehydration.
All in all, police from sixteen different departments responded, among them Bern, Fleetwood, Hamburg, Muhlenberg, Northern Berks, Penn State Berks, Spring, Tilden, and Wyomissing towns and townships. Reading police sent their best K-9 units. And Berks County responded with a prisoner transport vehicle.
Seven people were arrested. Papoutsis’ mug shot is the one on the far left in the first row. Jesse and Mandi Groh are the second from the right in the top row and the middle in the bottom row, respectively. Also among the arrested are Nicholas’ brother William (last one on the right in the top row) and his sister Jesse (far left on the bottom)–meaning the Papoutsis clan was well-represented in the Northern Berks jail.
Doug Mehrkam said he’d never seen anything like this wedding brawl, and he’s operated Blue Falls Grove for 35 years.
Mehrkam added, “I wish the couple luck in the future, because it’s not a very good start.”
(Photo credits: Mug shots via Northern Berks PD; bride via Flickr)