300 reasons to give thanks — for cops



The holiday season got off to a heckuva start Thanksgiving weekend, with the Kearny Police Department logging 300 calls for assistance between 5 p.m. Thanksgiving eve, Nov. 27, and  8 a.m. Monday, Dec. 2, Chief John Dowie reported.

The officers responded to medical emergencies, traffic accidents, shoplifting, domestic disputes, loud parties, disorderly conduct, problematic juveniles, etc., etc.

One of the more serious crimes occurred on Thanksgiving itself, when police received an 11 p.m. report of two men being assaulted by a group of four or five individuals at Chestnut St. and Bergen Ave.

When Sgt. Michael O’Neill and Officers Derek Hemphill, Tom Sumowski and Michael Santucci arrived on the scene, the group scattered, but two of the alleged assailants – a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old Kearny male — were caught a short distance away.

Sumowski and Hemphill pursued, cornered and apprehended another  suspect, Brandon Tice, 19, of Elizabeth, in an alley on Chestnut St., police said.

According to police, the victims — a 37-year-old and a 48-year-old, both from Kearny — had been walking on Bergen, when they were approached by the group, who demanded money and cigarettes and then set upon their victims, knocking them to the ground and kicking and beating them.

Both reportedly suffered severe facial injuries.

One of the victims was unconscious for a short time, and the other was unable to speak, police said.  They were transported to the trauma center at University Hospital in Newark.

Dowie noted that, before police arrived, at least two concerned citizens had tried to stop the attack and later remained at the scene to offer what help they could.

All three suspects were charged with robbery in the first degree and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Tice was also charged with criminal trespass.

Police said the 17-year-old was also wanted on an outstanding warrant  and was found to be in possession of a knife.

Other reports from the KPD blotter included the following:

Nov. 27

At 10:15 p.m., Sgt. Charles Smith and Officers Sean Kelly, Hemphill and Sumowski responded to an Elm St. tavern on the report of a disorderly patron who had been ejected attempting to reenter the premises.

They encountered Frankie Gonzalez, 26, of Kearny, said to be highly intoxicated and bleeding from a gash to his head. Medical aid was summoned, but Gonzalez reportedly refused to cooperate with the EMTs, tried to punch Smith and had to be forcibly placed in an ambulance.

Police said he remained combative and had to be sprayed twice with OC. Gonzalez has been charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and aggravated assault on a police officer and reportedly was held for observation at Clara Maass Medical Center.

Dec. 2

Officer Tim Castle, responding to  a disturbance on Ivy St. at 12:45 a.m., reportedly encountered Michael Jatczysyn, 39, of Kearny in an alley. Police said Jatczysyn struck the cop and resisted being cuffed when Castle took him to the ground. Officer Mike Santucci assisted Castle, but the suspect allegedly continued to resist.

At headquarters, he allegedly assaulted Castle again, grappled with him and Officer Glenn Reed and had be subdued by Officer Ben Wuelfing, who used OC spray.

Jatczysyn was charged with criminal mischief, resisting arrest and two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer.


At 10:20 a.m., Officer T.J. Hernandez went to the Windsor St. playground on a report that equipment had been vandalized over the weekend.  Hernandez found parts of the gazebo broken and extensive damage to the ground matting.   The incident is being investigated by the juvenile unit.

Dec. 4

The prime candidate for this week’s Duh Award is Esteban Torres, 22, of Belleville, who wished to apply for a liquor license and reported to KPD HQ at 4 p.m. for a routine ABC background check. During that check, Torres reportedly was found to be wanted on an outstanding warrant from  Elizabeth.

During a search pursuant to his arrest on the warrant, Det. Neil Nelson found Torres to be in possession of a marijuana cigarette and a plastic bag containing pot, police said. He was charged with possession of a CDS and paraphernalia and turned over to the Elizabeth PD.


At 8:15 p.m., Officer Jay Ward responded to a report of a break-in in progress at a residence near Seeley Ave. and Forest St.  The suspect reportedly had propped a tire against a wall and tried to open a window, but fled on foot when a witness approached.

The suspect was described as a 20-25-year-old dark-skinned Latino man. Police canvassed the area with unsuccessfully. Detective Ray Lopez is conducting a follow-up investigation.

— Karen Zautyk


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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.