HPD: Gunman held up couple near PATH station


The Harrison Police Department is investigating two robbery incidents – one successful, the other not – that happened within minutes of the other last Wednesday, Sept. 21, along Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard South.

In the first incident, police said Officers Allan Ford, Vincent Doffont and Michael Halpin responded to FER Boulevard South and Cifelli Drive, shortly after 5 a.m., on a report of an attempted armed robbery.

At that location, police were met by a 37-year-old Harrison resident who told them he was walking through the Bergen Mall when a silver or white four-door Lexus with tinted windows pulled up next to him.

The vehicle’s rear passenger door opened and a black male pointed a black handgun at him, prompting him to run toward the Dunkin’ Donuts to hide behind parked vehicles, the victim told police.

At that point, he told officers, he observed the Lexus leave the mall area and head west along Bergen St. with a black male driving and the alleged gunman in the rear passenger seat.

Police said the victim estimated that he was confronted between 4:53 and 4:57 a.m. that day.

In the second incident, police said that Officer Doffont was sent to FER Boulevard South and Harrison Ave., at 5:26 a.m., to check on a report of a robbery at gunpoint.

At that location, police said Doffont’s patrol car was flagged down by a 23-year-old Kearny man and a Harrison resident, 22, who told the officer they had just been robbed.

Police said they told the officer that they were walking in the area of FER Boulevard and Sussex St. when a white vehicle traveling south on FER Boulevard pulled up alongside and stopped.

Two black men, both armed with handguns, exited from the rear seat of the vehicle and approached, pointing their guns at the couple and ordering them to turn over their valuables, the victims told police.

Police said the victims immediately complied: the Kearny man gave up his cellular phone and his wallet containing an ID and $17 while the Harrison woman surrendered her house keys, a college ID and an ATM card.

Police said the woman added that when one of the bandits noticed that she was trying to hide her cell phone, he tried to pry it from her hands but as the two struggled, she heard the driver yell out, “We need to leave – the cops are coming down the block!”

The robbers then jumped into the vehicle which sped away, west on Sussex, the victims told police.

During a subsequent interview conducted by Lt. John Osterkorn, police said one of the victims identified the suspects’ car as a white Mazda occupied by five black males, all in their early 20s, two of whom got out and robbed the pair.

After getting the plate number and a partial description of the Connecticut registration of the vehicle from one of the victims, Doffont broadcast a description of the getaway car to responding patrol units.

Meanwhile, police said a potential lead in the case came when a computer check revealed that an armed robbery, reported by Union City PD, at 2:41 a.m. that morning, had a similar M.O., involving two black men exiting a white Mazda 3S with Connecticut registration and robbing two males at gunpoint. Police later learned that the Mazda had been reported stolen out of Newark and reportedly was involved in the robbery in Union City. Police said the earlier attempted robbery reported at FER Boulevard South and Bergen also had a similar M.O. and the description of the suspects and vehicle appeared to match.

As of last week, the investigation was continuing, police said.

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