You know the TV show “The First 48,” and how the opening always says that’s the most crucial part of a police investigation? Well, this next crime fits the mold and is yet another example of how the Kearny Police Department continues to quickly solve serious incidents. And in this case, the incident involved an armed robbery.
Here’s how this one went down, according to Det. Sgt. Mike Gontarczuk.
On Nov. 10, at 3:50 a.m., a man reportedly entered Quick Mart, 314 Belleville Turnpike, and requested three $3 crossword NJ Lottery tickets. As the clerk walked to the scratch-off counter, the man — later identified as Freddy C. Thomas, of Kearny, procured a firearm, pointed it at the victim and demanded the money in the cash registers.
Three lottery tickets, two iced tea bottles and $800 to 900 in cash was taken. The man then fled the scene of the crime. The store clerk stated the lottery tickets were serial-numbered and provided the sequence numbers of the stolen crosswords.
Det. Jonathan Dowie was assigned as the lead investigator. In the first 48, he identified the suspect to be Thomas, 38, through various investigative means, including matching camera footage to other media of Thomas from previous incidents.
The store’s camera footage confirmed a firearm was brandished, and, among other identifiers, Det. Dowie noticed during the robbery, Thomas wore a very specific outfit, including uncommon sneakers with a particular pattern and color scheme.
On Nov. 11, arrest and search warrants were obtained. On Nov. 12, at 5 a.m., the Hudson County Regional SWAT Team, along with the Kearny Police Department’s Detective Bureau, executed the search warrants upon Thomas’s Devon Street residence.
Thomas, who was home at the time, was initially non-compliant and refused to open the door; however, he eventually surrendered. A woman, unrelated to this robbery, was briefly detained at the home, before being released.
No force was used on either person.
In Thomas’s residence, detectives located the three stolen crossword lottery tickets (scratch-offs), a loaded Glock Model 43 pistol (9mm), a single hollow-point round (7.62x39mm) commonly used in AK-47 rifles, the clothing and specific sneakers worn during the robbery and a quantity of crack-cocaine and packaging materials, indicating it was intended for resale.
Upon arrest, Thomas was taken to the Kearny Police Department for processing, after which he was transferred to the custody of the Hudson County Jail, pending court.
The charges lodged against him are armed robbery, certain persons not to possess firearms, unlawful possession of weapons, possession of weapons for unlawful purpose, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine within 1,000 feet of school property and distribution of cocaine within 500 feet of a public park.