Paterson police seized five guns in three days – three in the hands of juveniles and another on a convicted carjacker just released from prison -- amid a series of shooting in the city, authorities said.
Hearing several gunshots Thursday night, Detectives William Hermann and Anthony Castronova rushed from Clinton and North 11th streets to North 8th Street, where they spotted city resident Shamel Wilkins, 24, Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.
Wilkins shoved a gun into his pocket as they approached, then threw it to the ground as he ran, Speziale said.
Wilkins was released from state prison on Feb. 9 after serving nearly three years for a 2015 carjacking conviction and two drug-dealing convictions the year before, records show.
Hermann grabbed him on North 9th Street while Castronova recovered the loaded, .380-caliber semi-automatic weapon, Speziale said.
Wilkins was charged with weapons offenses – including being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm – and was sent to the Passaic County Jail.
ALSO SEE: A 15-year-old Paterson boy and a Garfield man were both carrying guns when they bailed out of a car that crashed during a late-night police chase, authorities said. That made five guns in all seized by Paterson police amid a series of shootings that left one man dead and 13 victims wounded in less than a week.
Roughly 24 hours later, detectives assigned to a coronavirus compliance detail approached a large group playing loud music at the corner of Harrison and Carroll streets.
When one of the detectives advised them they’d be getting summonses, a 17-year-old city boy took off toward Governor Street, Speciale said.
Detective Salvatore Marotta began chasing him, spotted a large handgun sticking out of the boy’s pocket and alerted his colleagues, the director said.
The teen hopped a fence before he was seized by Marotta and fellow Detectives Luis Fernandez and Marvin Escobar. Assisting were Sgt. Christopher Ravallese, Detective Francisco Brito and Passaic County Prosecutor’s Detective Eugene Tolliver, he said.
The loaded, .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun, with a high-capacity magazine, had been reported stolen out of North Carolina, Speziale said.
Police signed delinquency complaints charging the teen with weapons offenses and receiving stolen property.
The arrests and seizures come amid a spree of shootings in Paterson, including no fewer than three separate shootings overnight Saturday that wounded five men and another outside St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center on Thursday that left one 20-year-old city resident dead and another wounded.
Detectives on COVID-19 enforcement duty Saturday afternoon seized another juvenile carrying a .32-caliber long TAC revolver – also loaded -- during a drug arrest that turned up 742 heroin folds and dozens of containers of crack.
Police were submitting the recovered weapons to the New Jersey State Police Laboratory to determine what crimes they may have been used in.
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