By Karen Zautyk
A 26-year-old Newark man was languishing in the Hudson County Jail after his arrest last week by Kearny police in connection with a home invasion and carjacking.
The suspect, Anthony Lewis, was nabbed in Newark by the KPD after a foot chase across the Clay St. Bridge, police said. He is being held on a dozen charges and $250,000 cash-only bail.
It was just a few hours into the New Year — at 7 a.m., Jan. 1 — when Kearny police received a report of the home invasion on Tappan St. near Devon St., where a man had “burst into” an apartment in a multi-family building. Police Chief John Dowie said it appears as if the invader had prior knowledge of the victims and/or the residence. There reportedly were at least six people in the apartment at the time.
Responding Officer Jay Ward was advised that the suspect was armed with a handgun and had stolen jewelry, currency and a cell phone, Dowie said.
One of the women in the apartment was taken at gunpoint to her parked car, a 2009 Lexus, and was forced to turn over the keys and surrender the vehicle, in which the bandit then made his getaway alone, Dowie said.
Police issued a BOLO on the car, which Officer Thomas Pontrella found abandoned a short distance away, on Devon St. at Johnston Ave. near the Kearny-Harrison pedestrian bridge.
Believing the suspect was now fleeing on foot, the KPD, with the assistance of the Harrison and East Newark police, set up a containment perimeter. Kearny Sgt. Paul Bershefski, one of those patrolling the perimeter, “had a hunch” the man was heading for Newark, Dowie said, and spotted an individual fitting the fugitive’s description in the parking lot of Tops Diner in East Newark.
Dowie said Bershefski recognized Lewis from previous police encounters and called to him to stop, but Lewis bolted to the Clay St. Bridge and fled across the river with Bershefski in foot pursuit.
During the chase, Lewis reportedly was seen pulling a handgun from his waistband and throwing it into the water.
On the Newark side of the Passaic, Lewis scaled a a fence at a construction site and disappeared on the property, police said. Units surrounded the location, and the suspect was found and taken into custody by KPD Officer Cesar Negron.
Police said no shots were fired during the pursuit and hunt, but some ammunition was recovered in the area where Lewis was arrested.
Lewis has been charged in two jurisdictions. In East Newark, the charges are resisting arrest, possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful disposition of a firearm, tampering with evidence, and ineligibility to possess a firearm because of a prior criminal record.
Kearny has charged him with burglary, robbery, carjacking, possession of a handgun and aggravated assault (for allegedly hitting one of the victims). Police said he also had an outstanding Kearny warrant.
Authorities said that Lewis has a record of nine prior arrests — in Kearny, Harrison, Newark, Irvington and Hillside — and three felony convictions.
Following Lewis’ apprehension, Kearny launched its police boat in hopes of recovering the gun from the river, but the efforts were unsuccessful.
The Bergen County Police Dive Team, which is equipped with an underwater camera and robot, went to the site Thursday, but the current was too strong for them to safely enter the river, Dowie said. The divers were scheduled to return early this week.
Lewis’ $250,000 bail, cash only with no 10% option, was set by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mitzy Galis- Mendez.