A response to a report of a car hitting a curb near the Wittpenn Bridge last week ended in the arrest of a suspect in an auto theft, thanks to three Newarkers who claimed to have witnessed the crime and followed the vehicle into Kearny, police reported.
At 10:15 p.m, May 21, KPD Officer Joe Martin was dispatched to the bridge, where he found an unoccupied 2000 Dodge resting against a curb, with three “concerned citizens” milling around the vehicle, KPD Chief John Dowie said. The trio reportedly told Martin they had seen the car being stolen on Broadway in Newark and trailed it until driver lost control, hit the curb and fled on foot.
Back-up KPD Officer Tom Pontrella searched the area, found an individual who fit the witnesses’ description and took him back to the scene, where those witnesses positively ID’d him, police said.
The suspect, Marcus Baez, 35, of Newark was arrested on a charge of receiving stolen property and was also found to have outstanding warrants from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Bayonne, police said.
The Newark PD was advised of the arrest and the reported theft and is investigating.
• Other recent items from the KPD blotter included the following:
At 10:15 p.m., members of the Vice Squad were conducting surveillance at Chestnut St. and Laurel Ave. when they witnessed what appeared to be a drug transaction taking place in a parked car. The vehicle pulled away, but the officers stopped it at Columbia Ave. and Chestnut and reportedly saw the driver hand the passenger a plastic bag.
The passenger, police said, then exited the car, walked to the rear, opened the trunk and attempted to discard two plastic bags into it — all this while the detectives were approaching the auto. The officers reportedly recovered the two bags containing suspected marijuana.
Both the (oblivious?) passenger, 19-year-old Mathias Torres of Kearny, and the driver, Marco Layedra, 24, also of Kearny, were charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
At 11:15 p.m., P.O. Jay Ward responded to a report of an apparently intoxicated man blocking the doorway to a residential building at Kearny and Johnston Aves. The 52 -year-old man, who has no known address, was issued town summonses for obstructing free passage of pedestrians and for public intoxication. An ambulance was summoned to the scene and the man was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark.
Officer Ward, on patrol on the 100 block of Ivy St. at 1:15 a.m., spotted two individuals walking in the middle of the street, one of whom punched the sideview mirrors off two parked cars, police said. Ward stopped behind them, but the alleged mirror-masher ignored him and continued to walk away, police said. Ward pursued him on foot and brought him to the patrol car, where he was arrested and cuffed. His buddy reportedly tried to intervene, but Ward directed him from the area, and put the suspect in the police car. At headquarters, the man was offered, but refused, medical attention for the cuts and bruises on his hands, police said. Charged with resisting arrest and two counts of criminal mischief was 19-year-old Mathias Torres of Kearny. (See May 16 item.)
At 5 p.m., P.O. Pete Jahera responded to several calls reporting a dispute among three individuals in a parking lot off Fish House Road in South Kearny. As Jahera attempted to ascertain the cause, one of the men, who was described as loud and intoxicated and very uncooperative, began to scream at the officer and reportedly refused to produce his ID.
Jahera requested back-up, and P.O. Peter Blair, who was working an off-duty assignment nearby and monitoring the police radio, responded. At the scene, police said, Blair encountered the belligerent man, who had reportedly become even more aggressive and pushed Blair in the chest.
Told he was under arrest, the man allegedly replied, “No, I’m not,” and assumed a fighting stance. Police said Blair blocked a punch, knocking the guy down, and the two ended up wrestling on the ground. Jahera came to Blair’s aid, as one of the other men began to descend on the officers and was warned to leave. “Literally, when the dust settled,” Chief Dowie said, the alleged combatant, Walter Herrera, 40, of Union City, was charged with aggressive assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.
At 8:30 p.m., P.O. Jay Ward responded to the report of a heated dispute in the area of Woodland and Highland Aves. Arriving to find two men engaged in a fistfight, he separated them and both were referred to the Municipal Court. One of the alleged brawlers apparently was not happy with the police services, Dowie said, and sought out Ward at HQ the next morning. But the KPD had found that the man was wanted by Belleville, and he was arrested and turned over to the Belleville PD. He was identified as William Torres, 29, of Kearny.
Officers Chris Medina and Frank West were on patrol in South Kearny at 5:30 p.m. when they spotted a vehicle being operated erratically and at an “excessively high rate of speed” on Routes 1&9. It was occupied by the driver and two passengers, all of whom turned out to be Jersey City residents.
When the officers stopped the car, the motorist, Juan Haddock, 36, was reportedly found to have a suspended license. He was charged with that offense and careless driving.
Warrant checks were done, and both passengers were found to be wanted, police said. Jerard Craig, 41, had an outstanding drug possession warrant from Jersey City, and Edwin Williams, 42, had a Jersey City Municipal Court warrant for a traffic offense, police said.
All three were arrested and taken to KPD headquarters.
• At 8:20 p.m., Officers John Fabula and Sean Kelly went to Franklin School on reports of people on the roof wearing ski masks. While checking the area, Fabula encountered a 15-year-old Kearny youth on Wilson Ave. who was allegedly in possession of handcuffs, a police scanner and an imitation police badge. The teen was arrested for illegal possession of the cuffs, was taken to his home and turned over to a responsible adult. Kelly stopped and questioned several other juveniles found in the area and then transported them to their homes.
• At 8:45 p.m., the Vice Squad was on Quincy Ave. when they observed 19-yearold Kearny resident Walid Helmy, who they knew to be the subject “of at least one Kearny warrant,” Dowie said. He was arrested and also found to have a warrant out of Lyndhurst, police reported.
P.O. Ben Wuelfing was on patrol on the Belleville Pike at 1:30 a.m. when he saw a car double-parked on Clinton Ave. As he pulled his patrol car behind it, the vehicle’s lights came on and it started heading south on Clinton.
The officer followed it to Bennett Ave. and onto Pleasant Place, where it began to accelerate. Wuelfing turned on his overhead lights, but instead of pulling over, the car started traveling faster and headed west on the Pike, crossing into Belleville.
A Belleville unit saw it and also tried to stop it and pursued it to Washington Ave., where it turned south, heading into Newark. Belleville terminated the pursuit, but officers were able to ID the auto as a Nissan with New York plates. They are reviewing surveillance videos and checking license-plate readers to determine its registration.
— Karen Zautyk