Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced carjacking, robbery, and conspiracy charges against a Hudson County man who allegedly stole a car and other items from a couple at gunpoint as they sat in their car waiting to pick up food at a restaurant in Elizabeth.
According to Acting Attorney General Platkin, Rahmel Belle, 22, of Jersey City, is also charged with weapons offenses, eluding, assault on a law enforcement officer, and other offenses in connection with the incident, which occurred on April 23.
The 15-count indictment was obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crime Bureau on August 11.
“Carjacking victims at gunpoint on a busy street in broad daylight is the most dangerous form of auto theft we’re combatting in New Jersey,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin.
“We have dedicated additional personnel, resources, and technology to put a stop to brazen crimes like this. We will continue to work with law enforcement throughout the state to investigate, arrest, and prosecute individuals responsible.”
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The victims were sitting in their late-model Mercedes Benz waiting to pick up food at a restaurant on Morris Avenue in Elizabeth around 7:30 pm when two masked men exited a car behind them and approached them.
One of the men pointed a grey handgun with a laser at them, ordered them out of the car, and demanded keys to the vehicle, their cellphones, and other items belonging to the victims.
The victims handed over the items, including approximately $1,704 in cash, and the gunman entered the driver’s side of their vehicle and drove off.
Later that night, a Newark Police officer observed the stolen Mercedes on Elizabeth Avenue in Newark and pursued it through the city before losing sight of it on Route 78.
A Newark Police aviation unit was able to assist and track the car to Jersey City, where the driver eventually abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot.
Jersey City Police, with guidance from the Newark Police Aviation Unit, were able to locate and apprehend Belle after a brief foot chase and physical scuffle.
A grey handgun with a green laser was recovered in the bushes next to him, and he had $1,744 in cash and the key fob to the stolen Mercedes in his possession.
Belle was also wearing sneakers identical to those worn by the gunman in the Elizabeth carjacking.
Belle is charged with carjacking, robbery, conspiracy to commit carjacking, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, eluding, resisting arrest, prohibited weapons and devices, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and receiving stolen property. Belle is being held in Essex County Jail pending trial.
The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.