A gunman who carjacked a couple waiting to pick up food outside an Elizabeth restaurant was captured by police thanks to a Newark police drone that followed their Mercedes to Jersey City, authorities said.
Rahmel Belle, 22, of Jersey City, and another man were both wearing masks when they got out of a car behind the couple on Morris Avenue around 7:30 p.m. this past April 23, Acting New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said.
Pointing a grey handgun with a laser at them, Belle ordered the victims out of the Mercedes and took their keys, cellphones and other valuables – as well as $1,794 in cash, Platkin said.
The gunman then got behind the wheel and drove off, he said.
A Newark police officer later that night spotted the vehicle on Elizabeth Avenue. He pursued it, but lost sight of the Mercedes on Route 78, Platkin said.
The Newark Police Aviation Unit tracked the car to Jersey City, where police nabbed Belle after a brief chase ended in a tussle and his arrest, the attorney general said.
Police found a handgun with a laser near Belle, who was carrying the cash and a stolen key fob, Platkin said.
Belle has remained held in the Essex County Jail since then.
Earlier this month, a grand jury in Newark returned a 15-count indictment charging him with first-degree carjacking and robbery, as well as lesser-degree counts of conspiracy, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, eluding and weapons offenses.
“Carjacking victims at gunpoint on a busy street in broad daylight is the most dangerous form of auto theft we’re combatting in New Jersey,” Platkin said. “We have dedicated additional personnel, resources, and technology to put a stop to brazen crimes like this.
“We will continue to work with law enforcement throughout the state to investigate, arrest, and prosecute individuals responsible.”
Deputy Attorney General Joseph Giordano is handling the case for the state Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau following an investigation by division auto theft detectives and their colleagues from the Jersey City and Elizabeth police departments and Union County Prosecutor’s Office, Platkin said.
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