Facing a new gun charge

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


A Kearny man, who two years ago accidentally shot himself in the jaw with a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver, was arrested last week in Newark on weapons charges. This time, authorities said, he was in possession of an AR-15 assault rifle. There was no indication he had ever accidentally shot himself with that.

James J. Hamilton, 23, of Kearny was arrested Aug. 13 along with Jonathan Garcia, 30, of Newark, after a raid on a home at 33 Taylor St. in that city by the Essex County Narcotics Task Force.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Newark Police Director Eugene Venable said both men were charged with possession of an assault weapon (a Bushmaster Carbon AR-15), possession of a high-capacity magazine and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon (both being convicted felons).

The Task Force, which was executing a search warrant at the address, reportedly also seized 28 live .223-caliber rounds and a semi-automatic .40-caliber Hi-point JCP pistol.

Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said Hamilton (a/k/a “White Boy”) has a township arrest record dating to 2010 that includes shoplifting, drug and weapons charges.

Back in July 2012, the KPD responded to a shooting at a rooming house at 344 Kearny Ave., Hamilton’s place of residence at the time, and found him lying outside on the sidewalk, bleeding profusely from a bullet wound to the jaw.

Officers followed a trail of blood to his second-floor apartment, where copious amounts splattered the floor and walls.

Hamilton had shot himself accidentally, and a friend who was visiting at the time hid the gun, police said. During a search for the weapon, Kearny Det. Ray Lopez climbed a tree near the rooming house and spotted it on the roof of an adjacent garage.

While Hamilton was hospitalized, the investigation continued, and police learned he apparently had no permit for the .38. He was arrested Aug. 15, 2012, by Dowie, who spotted him near Beech St. and Seeley Ave. and knew that warrants had been issued against him.

Hamilton was remanded to the Hudson County Jail on charges of unlawful possession of a handgun, unlawful disposition of a handgun and discharge of a firearm within town limits.

Disposition of that case is not known.

But last week, he was back behind bars, this time in the Essex County Jail, where he and Garcia were being held on $100,000 bail each.

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