VIDEO: The armed robberies of a 7-Eleven and Rita’s Ice in Englewood were committed by the same man, who nearly ran down a police officer during a chase that led to his capture earlier this week, authorities said.
John Terrell Wiley, 33, of Englewood, was being held in the Bergen County Jail on a variety of charges that include armed robbery and aggravated assault on a police officer.
Wiley, who has significant ties to both Queens and Chicago, was caught on surveillance video in both robberies, Detective Capt. Timothy Torell said Friday.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 245-pound defendant began his crime spree early this year, the captain said.
Wearing a distinctive scarf over the lower part of his face, Wiley entered the 7-Eleven on West Palisade Avenue near the Monument around 5:45 p.m. Jan. 30 carrying what appeared to be a handgun, Torell said.
“[Wiley] jumped the counter, grabbed one of the clerks and forced him to open the cash register,” he said.
He then fled with several hundred dollars ( SEE VIDEO, ABOVE) .
No one was hurt, Torell said.
Then, on April 25, Wiley got into an unlocked, running 2017 Honda Accord in the area of 91 West Palisade Avenue and took off with more than $1,500 worth of valuables in the vehicle, the captain said.
The vehicle – but not the valuables inside -- was recovered the same day in Queens, he said.
Englewood's business district was busy when Wiley held up the newly-opened Rita's Italian Ice shop -- in full view of surveillance cameras – on Saturday, Sept. 29, Torell said.
Wearing a hoodie and shorts, he entered the shop on bustling West Palisade Avenue around 1:15 p.m.carrying a large knife, the captain said.
Wiley “jumped over the counter, demanded money, then forced the register open, grabbed a handful of cash and took off," Torell said.
The owner, who came out from in back, briefly scuffled with the robber, who broke free before stumbling on the way out and dropping the knife. He then ran through the shopping center parking lot.
Again, no one was injured.
A security camera system in a neighboring store in the shopping center captured clear images of the robber ( SEE VIDEO, ABOVE ).
This past Monday morning, an Englewood resident left his 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee running and unlocked in the area of West Palisade Avenue, near William Street, when Wiley got in and took off, Torell said.
City police units responded, and Officer Jerel Hammond moments later spotted the Jeep less than a mile away -- parked and idling on Columbus Avenue.
When Hammond approached, Wiley hit the gas, forcing the officer to jump out of the way to avoid behind struck, Torell said.
Moments later, the Jeep struck some curbing and a telephone pole’s guy wire at First Street and Epps Avenue.
Wiley jumped out and ran behind some homes in the area – but Lt. Matthew DeLaRosa found and arrested him near the Mackay Park William Street bridge, the captain said.
Nearby, Sgt. Oscar Hernandez found a hat and coat that Torell said Wiley had stashed behind a home.
At headquarters, Officer Bill Regitz “recognized Wiley’s resemblance” to the Rita’s robbery, Torell said.
After interviewing Wiley and reviewing surveillance footage and witness statements, detectives obtained a search warrant for the King Gardens apartment comple where Wiley recently was staying.
There they found the scarf used in the 7-Eleven and Rita’s robberies, the captain said.
“This was a classic example of excellent police work by the different divisions within our department and a true testament to the dedication of the officers serving the Englewood community,” Torell said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.