JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The three suspects caught on an alleged vigilante mission with an arsenal of weapons at the Holland Tunnel entrance will spend another night in jail after pleading not guilty Wednesday.
John Cramsey, 50, and Dean Smith, 53, both of Zionsville, Pennsylvania, and Kimberly Arendt, 29, of Lehighton, each face several weapons charges.READ MORE: Vaccine Mandates For NYC Teachers, State Health Care Workers Head To Court
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, some consider the trio heroes on a mission to save the teenager. But prosecutors said they were a danger to themselves and others.
The three rolled up to the Holland Tunnel from the New Jersey side around 7:40 a.m. Tuesday in a flashy black rig with bright lime green trim — advertising the Higher Ground Tactical gun range near Allentown, Pennsylvania, which defendant Cramsey owns. The rig also featured an image of the “We the people” header of the U.S. Constitution.
The group was pulled over by a Port Authority police officer for a cracked windshield. When the officer ordered Smith out of the truck, it tuned out Smith was sitting on a loaded pistol, police said.
“And upon approaching the motor vehicle the officer observed in plain view a loaded pistol magazine,” Port Authority Police Superintendent Michael Fedorko said.
Inside the SUV were:
- A pump action shotgun with a pistol grip and collapsible stock
- An SAR-98 Salamander Arms assault rifle
- 7 clips of ammunition for the rifle
- 4 9mm pistols
- 1 .45 caliber pistol, with several magazines
- A Kevlar bullet resistant helmet with camouflage cover
- Tactical goggles
- Night-vision goggles
- Body armor
Some of the guns were loaded, police said.
On Wednesday, the suspects appeared in Hudson County court via a video link and listened as a judge refused to lower their bail. Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Zuppa argued in court that the collection of guns and knives represented a serious crime and a serious threat.
“The defendants pose a danger to the community. Seven counts here — shotgun and a loaded assault weapon,” Zuppa said. “The conduct had the potential to bring danger to the destination of the defendants.”
The attorneys for Cramsey, Smith and Arendt argued Wednesday the search that uncovered the weapons Tuesday in New Jersey was illegal.
Their destination was a building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where the suspects believed a 16-year-old girl from Pennsylvania was using drugs and in danger. The group claimed they were planning to “extricate” the teenage girl, reportedly friends with Arendt, who was being held by a drug dealer, police said.
The suspects say the teen was being held after she had woken up next to a friend who had overdosed, CBS2 reported.
On Facebook, Cramsey wrote, “I’m bringing her out of New York today and anybody else in that hotel that wants to go home too.”READ MORE: $432M Winning Mega Millions Ticket Sold At Manhattan Pizza Shop
Reaction in Bedford-Stuyvesant did not seem to think the group’s plan was a good idea.
“I wouldn’t become no vigilante,” said Terrence Wright of Bedford-Stuyvesant. “I’d just, you know, let the police deal with it.”
“That’s a lot of weapons, and I don’t know how that would have turned out for them,” said Tierra Mazyck of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Cramsey’s 20-year-old daughter Alexandra died from a heroin overdose in February and friends say he had been suffering from enormous guilt, channeling it into an ‘enough is enough’ campaign and placing signs on his truck that said ‘shoot your local heroin dealer.’
Hours before Cramsey headed out on the road, he also posted a photo of his daughter on his Facebook page with the caption: “I’ve been fighting the demon that stole you from me with everything I got,” WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
CBS2’s Aiello said Cramsey has become a passionate anti-drug crusader, and they believe he was on a misguided mission to save another young woman.
“Extremely passionate — again, willing to die to save somebody’s life and to stop the heroin problem,” said Cramsey’s friend Chris Pranzo.
Cramsey and his co-defendants were to spend Wednesday night in jail. Cramsey’s attorney was angered that judge required Cramsey to post the full $75,000 bond.
“My client has no prior record,” said defense attorney James Lisa. “He owns a gun range, and under certain exceptions, he is allowed to transport guns.”
New Jersey requires firearms to be unloaded and inaccessible while driving. Police said most of the guns in Cramsey’s truck were loaded and in easy reach.
Friends of the suspects were trying to raise money for bail late Wednesday.
Meanwhile, CBS2 has learned there was, in fact, an overdose death recently at the Bed-Stuy building to where the group was planning to go. But the girl the trio wanted to “rescue” told police she was not in any danger.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)MORE NEWS: Actor Willie Garson, Best Known For 'Sex And The City,' Dies At 57