Arrests in Bergenfield shootings

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Three men have been arrested and charged in a drug robbery gone wrong that led to the shootings yesterday of two Bergenfield men, one seriously, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said shortly before 6 p.m.


Two of the alleged assailants – identified as Zakeer Roberts, 24 (above, middle), of East Orange and Mario Ferreira (left) 22, of Newark – were both armed when the victims were shot at a Westwide Avenue home yesterday morning, the prosecutor said.

They were arrested earlier this afternoon by Bergen County prosecutor’s detectives with help from East Orange police and a Newark police SWAT team. Both were being held on $1 million bail each tonight in the Bergen County Jail.

A third man, 21-year-old Christian Nova of Englewood (above, right), was arrested last night and charged with arranging the holdup.

Nova had told Ferriera that one of the victims, 21-year-old Gilbert Mercado, “was known as having sold narcotics in the past and would have both money and narcotics in his possession,” Molinelli said. Nova “had some past dealings with Mercado” and “arranged for Mercado to be robbed by both [men.]”

Roberts was free on bail after being arrested in January by Essex County sheriff’s officers who said they found him with a slew of narcotics and a fully-loaded and defaced .45-caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun in a swerving car stopped in Branch Brook Park, records show. He also has several open warrants for his arrest.

Bergenfield police responded to a 911 call at 85 Westside Avenue yesterday morning and found both Mercado and  20-year-old John Newcomb shot.

Mercado was hit several times and was hospitalized in serious condition, Molinelli said.

Newcomb was shot once in the lower torso. He was hospitalized but was expected to survive.

An investigation by  the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Squad and Bergenfield police found that the gunmen went to the house “with the intent to rob Mercado of both money and narcotics,” the prosecutor said.

Neither Mercado nor Newcomb, who both live in the house, knew their assailants, Molinelli said, pointing to Nova, of Liberty Road in Englewood.

Nova was being held on $250,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and hindering apprehension, following his arrest last night at an undisclosed location.

Roberts and Ferriera are both charged with two counts of attempted murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and weapons offenses.

Molinelli said investigators “have yet to clarify” who shot whom. Neither gun had been recovered, he said.

“The investigation is still early and it anticipated that more details will be available in the days to come,” the prosecutor said.


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