Armed robbery suspect captured: BPD

BPD Trevor Torres
Trevor Torres

Within a less than half-hour interval on Aug. 21, a lone gunman discharged his weapon five times at two Belleville shops before fleeing, leaving frightened – but, luckily, unhurt – employees in his wake, police said.

The man allegedly responsible is now in jail awaiting court action, according to police.

Belleville Police Det. Capt. Dan Ward identified the suspect as Trevor Torres, 23, of Belleville. Torres is charged with two counts of armed robbery, two counts of possession of a weapon and two counts of possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose.

Torres is being held at the Essex County Jail on $850,000 bail pending court action.

Ward gave this account of last month’s episode:

Police responded to the Fat House take-out restaurant, 448 Washington Ave., at about 1:40 p.m. on a report of shots fired and, upon arrival, were told by workers that a masked gunman ran inside and demanded money.

When he got no response, workers say the gunman fired one round aimed at the back of the eatery which pierced a refrigerator unit containing beverages and then ran out with $800 and a counter tip jar with an unknown amount of change and bills.

Police recovered one spent round from that location.

From there, police were called to the Binny Food store, 304 Belleville Ave., where, according to Ward, police believe the same gunman appeared about 20 to 25 minutes earlier and demanded cash while firing a bullet behind a store clerk.

After the gunman fired a second shot into a display case, the clerk grabbed a pole and hit the gunman’s weapon several times, apparently trying to dislodge it.

At least two more rounds were fired during this struggle before the gunman took off, empty-handed, in his vehicle. Police recovered four spent rounds from the site.

With the aid of private surveillance video, and, conducting a joint investigation with the FBI, Essex County Sheriff’s Office and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, police developed a suspect in Torres and secured a warrant to search the suspect’s residence at 63 DeWitt Ave.

At that location, police said they retrieved two handguns, both loaded.

A ballistics test conducted by the Essex County Sheriff’s Office came back with a match from one of the handguns to the bullet fragments found at the robbery locations.

Police then obtained a search warrant for Torres and, last week, located the suspect in a vehicle parked at Verona and Summer Aves. in Newark where they placed him under arrest.

Ward said that at this time no one else is being sought in connection with the crimes.

– Ron Leir 

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