HALEDON, N.J. – An elderly immigrant couple had just finished dinner at a Haledon restaurant when they were accosted by three boys between 12 and 16 years old – one of them a 13-year-old who pointed a gun in the man’s chest and rifled through his pockets, said police who captured the culprits.
The victims told police they’d left the Belmont Dragon Restaurant when the trio – all wearing hoodies -- approached them in the area Barbour Street and Van Dyke Avenue just after 7 p.m. Sunday, Haledon Police Lt. George Guzman said.
All fled empty-handed on bicycles, Guzman said Thursday.
“After the robbery attempt, the elderly couple flagged down a motorist for help,” he said.
The motorist, a Haledon resident, stopped and dialed 911.
The victims, who live in Haledon, recently emigrated to the U.S. from Macedonia and don't speak English, Guzman noted. So Haledon Police Officer Semir Celoski responded to the scene to translate and help take a report.
Around 6 p.m. Tuesday, Detective Timothy Lindberg, Celoski and Officers Edar Merza and Michael Palmer took three juveniles into custody in connection with the crime: One is 12 and other two – both runaways – were 13 and 16, Guzman said.
All are from Prospect Park, he said.
Their parents and legal guardians were notified and responded to police headquarters, where the youngsters all confessed, the lieutenant said.
The 12-year-old juvenile was placed on house arrest via the Office of Passaic County Juvenile Probation on a juvenile complaint charging him with conspiracy to commit robbery, Guzman said.
The complaint against the 13-year-old charges him with armed robbery, conspiracy and weapons possession, the lieutenant said. The 16-year-old’s complaint is for conspiracy, he said.
Both were being held in Essex County Juvenile Detention Center pending hearings in Family Division of Superior Court.
"It is disheartening to see such young juveniles involved in such a senseless act of violence on the elderly,” Guzman said. “We are proud, however, this case was quickly solved and it is our sincere hope these adolescents seek an alternative, positive direction in life."
Police Chief Angelo Daniele credited his officers and detectives with reviewing surveillance video, identifying suspects and “gathering concrete evidence” to detain the trio.
The chief also singled out Prospect Park Detective Walter Richmond for his work on the case.
The weapon had yet to be recovered, police said.