Pot smoke was thick as Paterson detectives tried to disperse a crowd of 75 or so partiers -- most of them gang members -- who'd gathered in a space above a downtown business in a high-crime neighborhood. Then the investigators found a gun.
A man who identified himself as the owner stepped forward and was taken into custody as reinforcements arrived and broke up the illegal gathering, city Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.
The detectives were cruising the 5th Ward "hotspot" neighborhood on Market Street in an effort to "disrupt gang and narcotics activity as well as to prevent violent crimes such as homicides and non-fatal shootings," Speziale said.
"Individuals within this area have been known to carry firearms and for distributing large quantities of narcotics," he added.
It was shortly before 2 a.m. Friday when the Narcotics/Vice Division detectives heard loud music coming from the second floor of 320 Market Street, Speziale said.
Seeing the undercover investigators, the doorman "immediately turned and ran upstairs," the director said.
The detectives followed him up the stairs into an area thick with pot and cigarette smoke, Speziale said, noting that the space "functions as a business establishment being rented for parties and events."
The detectives quickly recognized several members of the "4K Boys" gang, many who Speziale said "became uncooperative."
They then found a loaded and defaced 9mm handgun under a table directly across from the DJ, he said. It had been reported stolen out of Georgia.
A man identified as the owner, Jesse Seegers, 41, of Paterson, told the investigators that he'd shut down the party, the director said, but people refused to leave. Backups were called, the crowd dispersed and Seegers was arrested, he said.
Police charged him with:
- maintaining a nuisance -- namely: "a condition that endangers the health and safety of a considerable number of people" because of the gun and indoor smoking;
- allowing the consumption of alcohol other than beer and wine without a license ("Hard alcohol was strewn throughout the establishment," Speziale said);
- Smoking within an enclosed public gathering;
- Remaining open after midnight;
- Not having an entertainment license;
- Not having a dance hall license.
- Loud music.
Seegers was issued summonses and released.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.