Pa. man charged in Schuyler Bank Robbery

20160923_121019KEARNY –

The prime suspect in the Sept. 8 robbery of the Schuyler Savings Bank was arrested Sept. 23 after leading Kearny police on a pursuit up Rt. 21 — a pursuit that ended when he crashed his car while trying to enter Rt. 3, the KPD reported.

The alleged robber was identified as James Lockwood, 38, of Laureldale, Pa., who police said had a record of 10 prior arrests and three felony convictions. He has been remanded to the Hudson County Jail, with more than a half-dozen new charges added to his resume.

As reported in the Sept. 13 Observer, a lone bandit had entered the Davis Ave. bank shortly after 5 p.m. on Sept. 8 and handed a note to a teller demanding cash. No weapon was displayed, and the perp fled with an undisclosed amount of money. 

Among the KPD personnel responding to the robbery was Officer Steven Hroncich, who stopped a suspicious northbound vehicle on Schuyler Ave. just a few blocks from the bank. When Hroncich pulled the car over, he reportedly saw the driver push what looked like a bag under the front seat.

At that point, police said, Hroncich leaned into the car and tried to take the keys, but the motorist put the vehicle in drive, dragging the officer about 100 feet into the CVS lot at Bergen Ave. There, Hroncich managed to free himself before suffering serious injury. Despite what could have been a life-threatening situation, he got a good physical description of the suspect and the vehicle.

Kearny detectives, working with other police departments, crime-pattern analysis and surveillance tapes, gathered further information, and at 11 a.m. on Sept. 23, Det. Ray Lopez and Officer Daniel Esteves set up a stake-out in an unmarked car on Rt. 21 in Newark. Police said they observed a 2000 Nissan Maxima with Pennsylvania registration enter the highway at Third Ave. and head north, toward Kearny. 

Other KPD officers positioned themselves on the Belleville Pike bridge, in anticipation of the Nissan’s exiting there. However, police said, the driver apparently realized he was being tailed and, just beyond the Kearny exit, began to speed up.

As the Nissan approached the Lyndhurst Bridge, it got bogged down in traffic and, police said, the operator drove onto the shoulder of the highway and increased his speed even more — “an obvious attempt to elude the officers.”

The pursuit continued north to the Rt. 21/Rt. 3 intersection. As the Nissan entered the ramp leading to Rt. 3, it hit the median, began to roll, landed on its roof and skidded several hundred feet before coming to rest against a guardrail.

Police said the driver, Lockwood, began to crawl out the passenger-side window, but was immediately taken into custody by the KPD officers — including off-duty Officer Alan Stickno, who had seen the pursuit and followed.

The Clifton PD and FD were also at the scene.

Police said Lockwood was not injured to the extent that he required emergency transport to a hospital, so he was instead transported to KPD headquarters, where Hroncich positively identified the suspect, and the car, that had dragged him along Schuyler Ave.

Lockwood was booked on charges of robbery, aggravated assault on a police officer, unlawful possession of a weapon (the car), possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, eluding, driving with a suspended license, and on a criminal warrant issued in Clifton in August.

After processing, he was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center for evaluation and then to the Hudson County Jail.

Police said Lockwood’s prior arrests included charges of carrying a firearm without a license, resisting arrest, escape, theft, reckless endangerment, burglary, possession of a CDS, receiving stolen property, and corruption of minors. He reportedly had been arrested in Nutley, by the N.J. State Police, and by authorities in Allentown, Bethlehem, Lansford, Pottsville, Whitehall and Carbon County, Pa.

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