Armed gang storm unlikely business, ending in shootouts and car chases
A well-armed gang of robbers stormed a scrap yard, pistol-whipped the employees and stole nearly a quarter million in car parts before attempting a dramatic get away last Friday. All of this happened in a state ranked among the strictest in the country in terms of gun control.
In Northern New Jersey, near Newark, lies the city of Elizabeth, population about 120,000. The city has a rich history and beautiful local architecture including the Goethals Bridge. The city is so nicely laid out that in 2008; Elizabeth was named one of "America's 50 Greenest Cities" by Popular Science magazine-- the only city in New Jersey so selected.
Nevertheless, Elizabeth has a crime rate higher than 87 percent of the cities in the United States according to recent statistics.
Even this rate jumped a bit last week with a daring daylight robbery just under that very picturesque bridge.
Just off the Jersey Turnpike, along Amboy Ave, sits the Bayway Scrap Metal yard. All was normal there last Friday, April 18 up until about 3pm. It was then that at least five men, armed according to reports with 'handguns and automatic weapons' burst into the business and ordered the employees to cooperate as they robbed the yard.
They pistol-whipped and tied up several of the employees including Bayway Scrap Metal's owner Carol Navarro and her husband, keeping them at gunpoint for 90 minutes while they loaded a U-Haul truck with the businesses on-hand cash and a pile of catalytic converters.
Yup, these things:
Apparently, they are full of platinum and the crooks loaded up some $250,000 worth of the precious-metal laden junk parts, which were at the center of the heist.
While under armed guard by the thugs, several of the employees were subject to threats and received injuries at the hands of their captors.
"One of them asked how long we were married," said Navarro. "I told him 45 years, and he said, 'Well, you're going to die together.'"
"I could hear him keep telling my husband, 'Shut up or I'm going to shoot you, I'm going to kill you,'" she said.
Armed robbers in search of car parts and cash in gun-strict New Jersey held Carol Navarro and her husband as well as two other employees at gunpoint. Photo courtesy of NBC New York.
What happened next?
Making their getaway, the criminals were finally spotted by police who pursued. This led to a running shootout along the roadways of the Garden State.
Eventually four of the five suspects, Michael Howard, 22, and Rafael Clemons, 27, Sharod Saunders, 30, and Steven Chambers, 47, were captured and have all been charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree carjacking, aggravated assault and multiple weapons offenses. The fifth man, who escaped in a pickup truck stolen from the yard, is still at large.
Police "recovered an automatic rifle, a submachine gun and three handguns." While its not known exactly what kind of weapons were used, media outlets used the terms AK-47 and Uzi.
New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, banning 'assault weapons', 'high capacity magazines' and placing strict limits on both concealed and open carry of handguns by law-abiding citizens. In fact, it is almost impossible to get a legal permit to carry a pistol in the Garden State, which has led to a long-running federal lawsuit.
The plaintiff in that suit is the owner of an ATM business yet according to New Jersey officials, he doesn't have enough 'good cause' to 'need' to carry a firearm.
Want good cause? Ask the employees at Bayway Scrap. They'll probably have something to say about that.