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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Matthew Sofka: The Philadelphia Wedding Brawl

     Matthew Sofka, a 26-year-old from Westfield, New Jersey, had attended his brother Michael's wedding in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia on Saturday, October 8, 2012. That night, after the wedding reception held at a nearby restaurant, members of his family who were staying at the Sheraton Society Hill, were partying in the hotel bar. Guests from another wedding that day were also in the lounge having late night drinks. Early Sunday morning, when Matthew Sofka arrived at the hotel bar, more than fifty post-wedding drunks were in the midst of a wild, barroom brawl.

     This massive display of drunken violence in the city of brotherly love was caught on video by Max Schultz, a 15-year-old in town on a birthday sightseeing trip. ( I'm sure the barroom scrap will make a bigger impression on the boy than his visit to the Liberty Bell. His video, portraying the fight from above, and at a distance to give it panoramic scope, has been seen by at least a million people on YouTube.)

     The Philadelphia police were on the scene swinging their batons and firing their stun guns when Matthew Sofka arrived at the bar, and allegedly jumped into the fray. Before the police brought the wildly swinging wedding celebrators under control, Sofka had been struck by a police baton, and tasered. During the melee, a 57-year-old uncle celebrating the marriage of the other bride, suffered a heart attack in the hotel parking lot. A short time after Vincent Sanutti's collapse (I presume he was in the bar when the fight broke out), he died at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

     While no one has been charged in connection with Mr. Sanutti's death, the authorities have charged Matthew Sofka with assaulting officer Sean Dandridge. The defendant has denied punching and kicking the Philadelphia cop. ( I presume the police have the assault on video.) Two other belicose party animals have been charged with disorderly conduct. No one seems to know what started the fight, but I sure it was over something really stupid. Sofka's paid his $25,000 bail and was released from custody. 

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