HACKENSACK, N.J. -- An armed robbery spree that included the shooting of a Ridgefield Park gas station attendant was cracked with the arrests of five men -- three of them from Lodi -- and a 17-year-old boy from Moonachie, authorities announced Wednesday.
The roundups were conducted by a multi-jurisdictional task force that included county sheriff's and prosecutor's officers and detectives, local police and authorities in Florida, Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal.
Charged with robbery and other counts were the task force's prime suspect, 21-year-old David Thomas Jr. of Lodi; Cainan Samuels-Wallace, 18, and Jordyn Moses, 19, both also of Lodi; Louis Rendon, 18, of Moonachie; and Chaz Q. Johnson, 20, of Orlando, Fla.
Also taken into custody was the juvenile, who was on his way to commit a robbery with Thomas and Rendon when they were arrested on Jan. 21, Grewal said.
Four days later, task force members seized Samuels-Wallace and Moses, he said.
This past Monday Johnson was arrested in Florida in connection with several holdups -- including the June 2014 robbery in which the attendant was shot, the prosecutor said.
The crime "went unsolved until now," Grewal said Wednesday afternoon.
They include two "brutal" assaults of gas station employees -- in Teaneck in May 2014 and in Garfield last month.
Thomas was charged with attempted murder, nine counts of armed robbery, three counts of attempted armed robbery and single counts of conspiracy and employing a juvenile in the commission of a crime.
Rendon and the boy were charged with single counts of attempted armed robbery and conspiracy, along with two illegal weapons offenses.
Samuels-Wallace and Moses were both charged with armed robbery and a pair of weapons counts. Samuels-Wallace also was charged with aggravated assault.
Johnson was charged with armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, conspiracy and two weapons offenses.
Grewal said the task force was formed in April 2014 in response to a gas station holdup spree that began in March.
Over a three-month span, six Delta station holdups occurred: two in Teaneck and the others in Garfield, East Rutherford, Wallington and Ridgefield Park.
In each, the robber asked for change of a 20- or 50-dollar bill, Grewal said.
"Once the gas station attendant produced money to make the change, the assailant brandished a handgun and demanded the money," he said.
During a May 12, 2014 holdup in Teaneck, the attendant was pistol-whipped, the prosecutor said.
The Ridgefield Park attendant survived his injuries after being shot in the chest on June 9, 2014.
The robber reached into his pocket, took money and fled, Grewal said.
After that incident, no other Delta holdups occurred in Bergen County, he said.
Last November, detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office - Special Investigations Squad and Lodi police investigated two convenience store holdups committed by a gunman who wore the same clothing in one of them as in two of the 2014 Delta jobs .
The prime suspect, Thomas, "fit the witnesses’ physical descriptions of the suspect responsible for the other Delta Gas Station armed robberies in 2014 and was consistent with surveillance footage from those earlier robberies," Grewal said.
A scare above his right eye was a distinguishing mark, the prosecutor noted.
Over the past few months, Grewal said, Thomas also robbed gas stations in Carlstadt and Garfield -- the latter in which the attendant was pistol-whipped, leaving him with serious facial injuries.
Thomas also tried to hold up a Hackensack convenience store but couldn't get into the register, he said.
Detective learned that Thomas and the boy bought a fake gun from a Hudson County sporting goods store, then spray-painted it "to make it appear authentic," Grewal said.
Searches of two residences and a vehicle turned up masks, gloves and the imitation handgun, he said.
Further investigation tied the others to various robberies in the other towns, the prosecutor said.
He was being held on $750,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail. Samuels-Wallace, Moses and Rendon were being held on $100,000 each. The teen was in the county detention center.
Johnson, meanwhile, was awaiting extradition from Florida. Authorities there recovered a .38-caliber revolver from his home, Grewal said.
More criminal charges were expected as the investigation continues.
Grewal thanked police from Garfield, Lodi, Ridgefield Park, East Rutherford, Teaneck, Paramus, Hackensack and Rutherford, as well as the Bergen County Regional SWAT Team, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification, the Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
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