The incident happened on Friday, April 28, when members of the Bridgeport Police Regional Auto Theft Task Force were operating in the area of Ridgefield Avenue and Barnum Avenue and spotted a gray Mercedes Benz C-300 with heavily tinted windows and counterfeit New Jersey registration plate circling an apartment building at 50 Ridgefield Ave.
After making multiple passes around the building, the Mercedes then pulled into the parking lot and backed into a space by the rear entrance, according to Bridgeport Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security Director Scott Appleby.
The operator of the vehicle, identified as 29-year-old Andy Marte of Meriden, then stayed behind and kept the Mercedes running while the other three masked passengers got out of the car and entered the building through the rear door.
After several minutes, the men, one of whom was wearing latex gloves, then came out of the building and got back inside the Mercedes.
At this point, based on the suspicious behavior they had witnessed and the counterfeit plate, Task Force officers pulled the car over. While it was stopped, officers had the men leave the vehicle and then saw a firearm resting on the floorboard behind the front passenger seat, Appleby said.
Officers then searched the building and found video footage that depicted the three men trying to break into an apartment using crowbars. A further search of the Mercedes then resulted in officers finding two crowbars and a second privately-made firearm, also known as a "ghost gun."
Additionally, police also allegedly found crack cocaine and pills on two of the suspects.
The four men charged in the incident were identified as:
- Tyrone Allen, age 46 of Bridgeport;
- Jermaine Bethel Jr., age 27 of Bridgeport;
- Kareen Porter, age 24 of Bridgeport;
- Andy Marte, age 29 of Meriden.
They were all charged with the following:
- Second-degree conspiracy to commit burglary with a firearm;
- Criminal possession of a firearm;
- Criminal possession of ammunition;
- Illegal sale, delivery, or transfer of a firearm;
- Carrying a pistol without a permit;
- Illegal possession of a large-capacity magazine;
- Weapons in a motor vehicle;
- Failure to obtain a serial number (privately made firearm).
Bethel and Porter were also charged with Possession of narcotics with intent to sell.
Both Marte and Bethel were already on parole for prior weapon charges and were remanded to custody, Appleby said.
The arrests were made by the Bridgeport Regional Auto Theft Task Force, which consists of officers from the Bridgeport, Stratford, Fairfield, Trumbull, and Westport police departments.
The Task Force has been operating in Bridgeport over the last 18 months to prevent, dismantle, and disrupt acts of violence by recovering stolen vehicles before they can be used in such crimes.
Click here to follow Daily Voice New Canaan and receive free news updates.