updated 8/23/2006 5:35:22 PM ET 2006-08-23T21:35:22

A vacationing police officer was beaten with a baseball bat at the New Jersey shore in what authorities called a hate crime, and three men — including a university lacrosse player — have been charged.

The three young men, all white, were charged in Tuesday’s beating of the officer from Cheltenham, Pa., who is black. The officer was treated at a hospital and released.

Jarreau Francis, 25, was walking in Sea Isle City with two white colleagues at 3 a.m. when he was attacked. One or more suspects beat him in the head with the bat, made racial slurs and threatened him, police said.

“They didn’t know he was an off-duty police officer. Just the fact that he was black was the target of this whole incident here,” Sea Isle Police Detective Jon Gansert told WCAU-TV.

A second officer was struck while trying to intervene, officials said. The suspects ran but were quickly arrested.

Vince J. Giordano, 21, of Moorestown, N.J., a lacrosse player for the University of Delaware, was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and bias intimidation. Charged with the same counts were Keith Hoffman, 23, of Folcroft, Pa.; and Thomas Russo, 21, of Lansdowne, Pa.

Giordano was released after posting bail, and the others were being held in lieu of $35,000 bail.

Giordano declined to comment, as did the university. It was unclear Wednesday whether the other two suspects had lawyers.

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