Cops: Penn Township woman disrupted porch party with ethnic intimidation
A Penn Township couple alleges that a neighbor disrupted a weekend porch party by hitting their backyard fence with an aluminum baseball bat as she yelled threatening racial epithets toward the gathering, township police said.
Beth D. Knapp, 50, of Nancy Drive, was charged with ethnic intimidation, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct by township police after the incident just before 11 p.m. Saturday. The complaints were served on Knapp via mailed summons by Harrison City District Judge Helen Kistler’s office.
Patrolman Thomas Seefeld said the male victim who hosted the porch party is black.
Seefeld reported in court documents that the couple were on the back deck with family and friends “when a white female began striking their wooden fence with a baseball bat while yelling racial slurs.”
Seefeld reported that Knapp had called township police several times that evening complaining about music coming from the party.
“During (an earlier) conversation with Knapp, she repeatedly yelled obscenities at me and expressed her displeasure with the gathering,” Seefeld reported.
At one point, Seefeld reported Knapp handed the telephone to her (boyfriend), and he could hear Knapp in the background say, “(expletive) this, I’m gonna take matters into my own hands.”
A short time later, Seefeld said police received a call from the victims, who live on a nearby street.
“The male said he was afraid for his safety due to to Knapp’s use of racial slurs and violent behavior,” Seefeld said.
The incident was witnessed by several people and was captured on cell phone video, Seefeld reported.
When police arrived, Seefeld asked Knapp why she damaged the neighbor’s fence with a bat.
“Because you wouldn’t do anything about it,” Seefeld said she replied.
Reached on Wednesday, Knapp indicated she was surprised by the ethnic intimidation complaint filed against her.
“I am not prejudiced. I tried every means to resolve it … calling the police, 911 … My boyfriend also went over there to ask them to turn the music down a little, but nothing worked,” Knapp said.
“When the police went over, they turned down the music. But then a little while later, they’d turn it up louder than it was before. My boyfriend went over and explained that I had to be at work at 6:45 a.m. the next morning and could they please turn it down a little,” Knapp said.
Knapp said that the lyrics “were a lot worse than anything I said to them. It was ignorant, using cuss words, with the n-words, using slang for women in the songs… It was just awful and I snapped.”
“I probably could have handled it better and didn’t act appropriately, but I lost it. I did try to use other methods to have them turn it down and called authorities nine times and nothing happened,” she said.
No one answered the door at the victims’ home.
Last month, a Hempfield man, Mark Eugene Ray, 59, spent two months in the county jail before being sentenced to time served for harassment after leaving racial slurs on a telephone answering machine at Living Word Congregational Church in Penn Township, where an African American pastor serves. Ray is white.
Knapp’s preliminary hearing is scheduled Sept. 3.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .