What started off as a tense standoff between an emotionally disturbed woman and the Kearny Police Department and the Hudson County Regional SWAT team the morning of Friday, Dec. 2, ended with the subject surrendering peacefully, but not after a long day of wondering what might next happen.
At around 7 a.m. that day, police were called to 78 Oakwood Ave., a place police have often been called, on a report of a woman threatening to kill herself with a rifle. Kearny Police Chief George King said police weren’t sure whether she really had a rifle as they had obtained intelligence the weapon might actually be a BB gun that resembled a rifle. (Ultimately, it turned out to be just a BB gun — more on that later.)
Out of an abundance of caution, the Kearny PD reached out for the Hudson SWAT team — and a wide perimeter was set up around the home and adjacent blocks. Traffic was blocked as far south as Oakwood Avenue and Kearny Avenue and as far north as Midland Avenue and Kearny Avenue. Other streets — like New Lawn Avenue, Pavonia Avenue — were also off limits.
The public was, for hours, barred from walking along those stretches, as well, out of an abundance of caution.
After more than six hours of keeping police and SWAT at bay, the woman ultimately emerged from the home without a weapon on her. Capt. Timothy Wagner, the Kearny PD’s press liaison, said the woman had been taken to an area hospital where she was expected to undergo an extensive psychiatric evaluation.
Deputy Chief Scott Macfie, who was the incident commander that day, said the woman, whose name we are not releasing, will soon be charged with aggravated assault since she “pointed the gun at workers” who were performing construction on an adjacent home. Charges aren’t always a foregone certainty when someone holds police at bay.
Unfortunately, the home is one police have often been called to for a variety of reasons. In fact, in last week’s police blotter alone, we learnt the woman in this case was arrested in November after she first fled the home to the Exxon Station at Oakwood and Kearny and told police someone was going to kill her — and then just hours later, stood accused of threatening to kill someone, herself, who also lived in the same home (which, by the way, does not have electricity.)
There were likely other reports you have have previously read in this newspaper involving the woman and other residents at the house involving anything from noise complaints to violations of restraining orders to physical assaults.
Despite all of the intense action — which included locking down Lincoln Middle School, just half a block away from the scene of the incident — not a single person … the victim, civilians, police — was injured during the course of the day.
And, fortunately, since the incident was isolated to the home, the general public was never at risk for harm.
Meanwhile, as tends to happen when incidents such as this one occurs, there were numerous egregious social-media reports about what was happening at the scene, the worst of which is that people were being held hostage. At no time was this ever a hostage situation.
This was the second of what one might consider a “major” police-related incident in that neighborhood last week. Early Tuesday morning, Nov. 29, three burglars used a crowbar to gain entry to the then-closed Exxon station’s mini-mart and to take off in a stolen Range Rover with its ATM machine (yeah, we know, the M implies “machine.”)
In that case, Ruben Gonzalez, 19, whose last known address was in Newark, was taken into custody by Newark police, after officers in the Newark PD’s 7th Precinct found him in possession of yet another stolen vehicle, this time a Porsche taken from Muttontown Village, New York.
Det. John Fabula charged Gonzalez with third-degree burglary, third-degree theft, third-degree conspiracy, second-degree receiving stolen property and fourth-degree criminal mischief. He was, at the time, remanded to the Essex County Correctional Facility based on the charges he faced in Newark.
However, on Thursday, Dec. 1, he was released from the Essex County Jail into the custody of the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Gonzalez was listed by the Essex County inmate lookup tool as an “escapee” from one of its Juvenile Justice Commission facilities, though he is no longer a juvenile.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off 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 Facebook Live, 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 West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.