Four Charged in Fatal Short Hills Carjacking
Four men have been arrested and charged in connection with the Short Hills mall carjacking that took the life of Toms River native Dustin Friedland last Sunday.
Hanif Thompson of Irvington, and Newark residents Karif Ford, Basim Henry and Kevin Roberts are charged with murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, authorities said. Bail has been set at $2 million for each defendant. All four are being held in the Essex County jail.
Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murrary announced the arrests at a Saturday morning press conference and said that tips from residents throughout the greater Newark area helped authorities identify and locate the suspects.
"Many of the leads that we received in this case came from our four most urban towns," Murray said. "And I believe that's because the sheer senselessness of this case outraged people from Millburn to Newark."
Friedland, a Hoboken resident and an attorney for a Neptune company, was gunned down in the shopping center's parking garage in full view of his wife last Sunday night. The couple had just completed a round of holiday gift-buying at the popular upscale mall.
The 30-year-old's SUV was found the next day in nearby Newark. Murray said Saturday that the crime appeared to have been motivated specifically by the suspects' interest in stealing the silver Range Rover.
She said the four suspects had apparently arrived at the mall in a Suburban and then, after the shooting, split up, two driving off in Friedland's vehicle and the other two fleeing in the Suburban.
She declined to say "at this time" which of the four suspects fired the gunshot that killed Friedland but said the firearm "has not been recovered." She also declined to discuss whether the suspects were connected to any larger car theft ring or gang.
Murray said the law enforcement agencies participating in the arrests included her office, the Millburn Police Department, Pennsylvania police, the FBI and U.S. Marshalls.
Millburn police chief Anthony Ambrose said the arrests began Friday night and continued into the early morning hours on Saturday, concluding at about 3 a.m. Ford, 31, and Roberts, 35, are residents of Newark and were arrested there, Ambrose said. Thompson, 29, was arrested in Irvington, where he lives. Henry, 32, was arrested at a hotel in Easton, PA.
"Extraordinary police work" was also credited by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, who noted the work of a multi-agency task force created in recent years to stem a rising tide of carjackings, especially in Essex County, which has had what he called "an epidemic" of such crimes.
"You shouldn't have to worry that where ever you go, whether it's in downtown Newark or the Short Hills mall or anywhere else, that someone will put a gun to your head and take your car," Fishman told the press conference. "We are working diligently around the clock to try to make sure that no one in Essex County and no one in New Jersey has to be scared of that."
The Essex County Prosecutor's office has posted detailed advice on how to avoid or survive a carjacking.
Dan Alexander and Fred Tuccillo also contributed to this report.