JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A parent and a man dressed as the Easter bunny were both charged Monday, following a brawl this past weekend at a mall in New Jersey.
Kassim Charles, 22 – who was dressed as the Easter Bunny late Sunday afternoon at the Newport Centre Mall in Jersey City – and Juan Jimenez-Guerrero, 44 – were both charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct, police told CBS2.
Charles and Jimenez-Guerrero both had outstanding warrants. Ironically, Charles had a warrant for his arrest for fare hopping, police said.
As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, the fight between the men broke out around 5 p.m. Sunday in the middle of the mall.
“You could see it throughout the entire mall,” said witness Ozzie Torrez. “The crowd was just crazy, and he was just like whacking at the guy.”
What should have been a cute photo-op for children ended up going straight down one awful rabbit hole of unhinged violence, when a disagreement erupted between the parent and the Easter bunny.
A child may have slipped from a chair after having her picture taken with the costumed character.
“That’s an Easter Bunny and it’s supposed to be like a fun family thing – and it just wasn’t,” Torrez said.
On a video posted to Twitter, the man in the bunny costume is seen brawling before being separated by security. The man then appears seconds later, throws off his white bunny gloves and exchanges punches with another man.
Jersey City officials said it seems the bunny may have been the victim initially, but then he took his paws off and threw a punch at the parent.
“It’s shameful, really,” one woman said.
But the show must go on. On Monday, a new Easter bunny was in position – and mall management was in no mood to discuss the mayhem. Management referred all questions to the company that hires the Easter bunny characters – a Colorado outfit called Noerr Programs, which told CBS2, “We are cooperating with the Jersey City Police Department who are leading this investigation and have assigned other employees to fill the role of Bunny.”
And in fact, job openings for an Easter bunny as of Monday were still listed on the company’s website.
“I think it’s a disgrace. Behaving that way in front of children — not cool,” a witness said.
Indeed, shoppers at the mall – who have seen so much – were especially appalled at the sight of the brawl.
“It’s a little sad for an Easter Bunny, like, kids you know — that shouldn’t be happening,” a parent said.
“Parents have to understand their reactions in front of their kids impacts them,” another said.
“It just was real sad that kids are, you know, seeing — thing that is the Easter Bunny, and they see a person fighting,” a third said.
Charles and Jimenez-Guerrero were both being held at the Hudson County Correctional Center late Monday.
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