By Karen Zautyk
A Newark man, who is said to have more than two dozen aliases and nine Social Security numbers, was arrested last week on robbery and weapons charges after a confrontation at the Rite Aid Pharmacy on Kearny Ave., during which one arresting officer was slashed with a razor.
The suspect, 30-year-old Luis Torres, has a history of 30 prior arrests, eight of them in Kearny, Police Chief John Dowie said.
At 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5, KPD Officers Vanessa Sevillano and Frank West were dispatched to Rite Aid on the report of a shoplifter fighting with employees.
Sevillano arrived first to find the fracas in progress at the rear of the store. When she attempted to take Torres into custody, he resisted, police said.
The suspect had apparently lacerated his hands during the store fight, and in the struggle to restrain him, Sevillano came into contact with his blood.
Then, as West helped Sevillano handcuff Torres, West was slashed on his hand with a razor in the suspect’s possession, police said.
Both officers must now be sent for treatment due to exposure to the blood, Dowie noted.
Torres has been charged with: robbery; two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer; resisting arrest; two counts of throwing bodily fluids; unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.
Police said he also had an outstanding no-bail warrant out of Clifton.
Dowie noted that this was Torres’ 31st arrest. His eight prior arrests in Kearny included charges of shoplifting, possession of hypodermic needles, and aggravated assault on an officer, the chief said, and were recorded in August 2005, June 2006, July 2006, May 2007, July 2009, August 2011, July 2012 and October 2012. In the last instance, Dowie said, Torres feigned needing medical assistance and was taken to Jersey City Medical Center. While there, he reportedly tried to escape through a bathroom ceiling.
Last week, the chief reported, Torres again said he required treatment. This time, he was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center — and then to the Hudson County Jail.
Shoplifting in Kearny has been on the increase.
As of Nov. 1, Dowie noted, the KPD had recorded over 200 shoplifting reports, “more than in all of 2012.”
“And,” he added, “the holiday season isn’t even here yet.”