Police: There's Another Side To Fight Between Bergen Firefighter, Cellphone Store Employee

UPDATE: There's another side to an incident involving a New Milford firefighter and an employee at a cellphone store in Bergenfield whom he accused of attacking him in front of his young son, borough police said early Tuesday evening.

Bergenfield police

Bergenfield police

New Milford Firefighter Joseph Schrader

New Milford Firefighter Joseph Schrader

Photo Credit: Joe Schrader

Daily Voice left a message early Tuesday with an employee at the T-Mobile store on South Washington Avenue who said the manager was expected at work sometime during the day. The call wasn't returned, however, and the store -- which ordinarily closes at 8 p.m. on weekdays -- shut down early.

No charges were filed by police.

Bergenfield Police Detective Lt. William Duran explained:

"During the investigation by the officers, it was determined that there were conflicting stories from the two individuals over who was the aggressor. The incident evolved from a verbal dispute over the repairs of a cellphone which turned physical," Duran said. "Based on the circumstances both males were advised of their options on how to file complaints if they wished to do so."

Joseph Schrader said things started out fine when he and his 9-year-old son entered the store on Saturday to return a cellphone for cash. 

Schrader said the clerk "was walking over to the computer when I said to him that he screwed up my phone the last time I was there. He flipped out and told me to f*ck off and to ‘go f*ck myself.'

“I told him not to speak that way in front of my son. He then told me to take my stupid son and get the f*ck out.

“I told him if he continues to speak that way he needed to go outside,” Schrader continued. “Then he told me to take my piece of sh*t son and get the f*ck out.

“I took my phone and said I was calling police,” the firefighter said. “He said, ‘You call the cops and I’m going to kick the sh*t out of you and your son. I got in his face and said ‘What did you say to me?’ He said, ‘You heard me.’

“So I took my phone back, turned to my son to say let’s go," Schrader said. "That's when (the employee) cold-cocked me in the side of my face with his key ring, knocking me to the floor.

“He must have hit me 20 times," he said. "He was on top of me and my son was screaming, ‘Stop it! Get off my daddy!’”

The assailant “had me pinned to the floor punching me continuously,” Schrader said. “Then he went for my son's throat!

“I said, ‘You touch him it’s over. I used my legs to toss him off of me, finally got to my feet and told (my son) to run.”

Schrader said the worker tackled him this time, knocking his cellphone across the floor. He was being pummeled again, he said, when he shouted to his son to grab the phone and dial 911.

The worker eventually went into the back of the store, Schrader said. Police arrived moments later, he said.

Schrader said he went to Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck for treatment of cuts and bruises on his face and neck. 

"I hurt all over," he said Monday, "but I am OK. The worst part is that my son was traumatized. I was so upset to see him that way.

“He keeps apologizing for me getting hurt," Schrader said. "I told him it wasn’t his fault.”

Schrader filed a complaint Monday at Bergenfield police headquarters that was destined for Municipal Court, where a probable cause hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.

Schrader said he has retained a lawyer and is pursuing aggravated assault and child endangerment charges.

Whether a counter-complaint had been filed couldn't immediately be determined.

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