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Would-be home invasion victim ran pot shop, had loaded gun, Englewood police say

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

THE FULL STORY: An ex-con who called police saying he’d been the victim of a home invasion was himself arrested and ordered held on $100,000 bail after police found a marijuana distribution operation and a defaced loaded handgun in his home and pot in his pocket, Englewood Police Chief Arthur O’Keefe told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

“It was only two and a half hours into the New Year,” the chief said, “when police received a 911 call from a Thomson Avenue residence with regards to a home invasion and shooting.”

Gavin Dante Birthwright, 23, told police who arrived at his Thompson Avenue home that two masked men carrying a shotgun and handgun burst through his back door while he and a friend, 22-year-old Deshawn Stephens were in the basement.

Birthwright said his mother and 7-year-old brother were home, as well, O’Keefe told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

“Where is it! Where is it!” the Dwight Englewood High School graduate said the intruders shouted, as he showed the officers cuts on his arm that he said he sustained during a struggle.

He also told police that the man with the shotgun “fired at least one round and then chased him to [the] second floor,” the chief said — adding that police found shell casings but no bullet holes anywhere.

Stephens told police he was pistol-whipped, resulting in a cut on his head.

Officers from Tenafly, The Bergen County Police Department, Leonia and Teaneck responded to assist with the search for the intruders and help secure the crime scene, while other Englewood officers were handling a pair of other calls — one a fight at a local nightclub, the other a domestic violence incident.

As police took down notes at Birthwright’s house, they noticed dozens of bags of marijuana and packaging materials, O’Keefe said.

Birthwright and Stephens were arrested on various drug and drug dealing charges. Stephens is being held on $25,000 bail at the Bergen County Jail.

Meanwhile, detectives obtained a search warrant for the home, which sits on the Teaneck border, and collected 50 or so bags of marijuana, hundreds of packaging bags, a .22-caliber Derringer handgun with its serial number filed off and ammunition, O’Keefe said.

Birthwright spent a year in the Bergen County Jail on a burglary conviction and was released in May of last year. He was on probation for armed burglary when he was arrested in 2009, public records show.

Stephens has spent several stints at the jail, having moved through the system on a variety of charges — without serving any genuine prison time, records show.

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