ROCHELLE PARK, N.J. – A driver found carrying a stolen semi-automatic handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets told Rochelle Park police overnight Wednesday that, given the chance, “there would have been a shootout,” authorities said hours later.
Getting arrested is “nothing more than the price of business,” Jonathan R. Leon-Casiano, 25, of Paterson told Officer Ryan Burke, Police Chief Robert Flannelly said.
“The amount of illegal firearms that my officers are more frequently encountering is alarming and has me concerned,” Flannelly said. “Officer Burke alone has gotten four guns off the street since joining our department in only a little over two years.”
Leon-Casiano also had pot packaged for distribution and $2,500 in suspected drug proceeds, Lt. Dean Pinto said.
Burke stopped his car on Rochelle Avenue near the Midland School just before 1:20 a.m. because its high beams were on and its brake lights were out, Pinto said.
As soon as he got to the front window, Burke “could smell the strong odor of raw marijuana and a strong air freshener as a masking agent coming from the interior of the vehicle,” he said.
Officer Nicholas Mercoun backed up Burke, who found a compartment in the center console containing the gun, hollow-point ammo, pot packaged in individual containers, a knife and the cash in small denominations.
The gun was reported stolen out of Sumter, SC. Police forwarded the discovery to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to determine whether it had been used in any other crimes.
Leon-Casiano was ordered held without bail in the Bergen County Jail pending a detention hearing on various weapons, ammunition and drug charges, as well as possession of property derived from criminal activity.