LACEY — The man accused of fatally punching a 78-year-old to the ground in the parking lot of the Lakeview Diner was released from jail on Thursday after the judge received many letters of support, according to the Asbury Park Press.

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Edward Chandler, 54, of Manalapan, was charged with aggravated manslaughter in connection with the Sept. 30 death of Robert Clark.

The affidavit in the case says Chandler struck Clark in the face with closed fist as Clark walked toward another person and someone yelled "knife." Clark fell backward and hit his head on the sidewalk.

Chadler's lawyer, Robin Lord, told the judge that Chandler was considered "the unofficial mayor of his community,"  who was charitable and well liked. She said Chandler was defending another man, according to Asbury Park Press coverage of the hearing.

Diner owner Brian Brindisi told New Jersey 101.5 that all the people involved in the fight were members of the Wawa Crew, a motorcycle club that formed during the pandemic.

"All I know is that this group of people have done so many good things for the community. I'm in shock over this. They've been going putting together birthday rides for the seniors. They do so many good things," Brindisi said.

Chandler has a court date on Dec. 2.

Lord on Thursday afternoon did not immediately return a request for comment.

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