PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A struggle ensued outside the Garden State Mall in Paramus, N.J. Tuesday, as a woman fought off two suspected carjackers.
As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the attempted carjacking happened in broad daylight as the suspects – both 16-year-old boys – tried to escape into a nearby residential neighborhood.
Around 12:50 p.m. Tuesday, Paramus police received a 911 call from the 34-year-old Ridgefield Park woman, who said she had just returned to her car in the south parking lot at the mall after shopping at Best Buy.
The woman told police she was sitting in her car with the doors unlocked, when two boys came up, opened the doors, and tried to pull her out, police said. One of the suspects took the keys from her hand, police said.
The suspects then ran off east through the parking lot toward a residential neighborhood, police said.
Paramus Officer Kurt Massey was on Plaza Way responding to the incident when he saw two boys running by, police said. The boys separated and fled into backyards on Fairfield Drive, police said.
Massey arrested one of the boys in the backyard of a home on Fairfield Drive, along with two other officers – Todd Colaianni and Jonathan Henderson, police said. The officers set up a perimeter along with police from two neighboring municipalities, and eventually found the other suspect in a backyard on Cloverdale Road.
On Tuesday night, shoppers at the mall could not believe the incident had happened in the middle of a busy afternoon.
“It’s surprising considering the area, and considering, like, Route 17,” one man said, “and Paramus is a pretty secure town.”
“That’s scary, especially in broad daylight,” added Esther Tonge of Bogota.
Nicole Ventura, who was home with sick with her mother, said she heard the suspects in her backyard.
“I just heard, like, two people, and I figured it was my dad was home with one of his friends from work,” she said.
But it was police chasing the suspects behind her house on Fairfield Drive. Ventura found both sheds in her yard were opened, but did not realize what had happened until after police arrested the suspects right on her block.
“Nothing was taken, but pretty weird and scary now that I think about it,” she said.
“She went to shut the door of the shed — I’m like, ‘Oh my God, they could have been in there,’” added her mother, Janette Ventura. “Like, it’s scary.”
People shopping at the mall said what is most disturbing is that the alleged carjackers are only 16 years old.
“We need to more than just stop things from what’s happening,” a man said. “We need to prevent them from happening in the first place.”
The victim declined medical attention. The boys were charged as juveniles with carjacking and resisting arrest, and were being held late Tuesday at the Bergen County Juvenile Detention Center in Teterboro.
About 30 miles away at another New Jersey mall, a man lost his life to a carjacking in a parking garage.
Dustin Friedland was shot and killed in the parking lot of the mall on Dec. 15 of last year. Friedlands and his wife, Jamie, were leaving the upscale shopping center when they were confronted by two armed men as they were getting into their 2012 Range Rover on the third-floor parking deck, prosecutors said.
Jamie was unharmed, but Dustin was shot in the head and later died at an area hospital.
Four suspects have been charged in the Short Hills case charged with murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. They all pleaded not guilty.
Jamie Friedland also filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the case, accusing the mall operators and security contractors of failing to keep the mall secure.
Meanwhile, the Garden State Plaza Mall was also the subject of a horror last November, when
Richard Shoop, 20, of Teaneck walked through the mall with a rifle that had been modified to look like an AK-47, randomly firing shots before turning the gun on himself.
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