Category: West Long Branch

Curling Iron Mistaken For A Weapon Causes Massive Police Response At Monmouth University

March 23, 2023

WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Dr. Patrick F. Leahy, President of Monmouth University sent a letter this morning that last’s nights massive police response on campus was due to a possible reported person on campus with a gun and an additional report of shots fired, and that both reports were later unfounded.

Video footage and other technology was used based on description of the person and identified a person of interest, a currently enrolled student. Law enforcement was able to determine that the person was in possession of a curling iron that was mistaken for a weapon. The shelter-in-place order was lifted at 1:40 a.m. this morning March 23, 2023.

There will be a delayed opening today March 23, 2023 for offices and classes until noon.

See full letter below:


March 23, 2023

Dear Members of the Monmouth University Community:

At 9:15 p.m. on March 22, 2023, the Monmouth University Police Department received a call with a report of a person with a possible weapon on campus in the area of Magill Commons. Upon investigation, additional reports of shots fired were unfounded.

Police were dispatched to the area and the campus was immediately alerted to shelter in place. Multiple law enforcement agencies were called in to assist in searching and securing the campus, including the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Long Branch, Ocean Township, and West Long Branch police departments.

Detectives were able to utilize video footage and other technology based on the description provided and identified a person of interest, a currently enrolled student. Based on interviews with that person, law enforcement personnel were able to determine that the person was in possession of a curling iron that was mistaken for a weapon. Based on this update to the investigation, the University lifted the shelter-in-place order at 1:40 a.m. on March 23.

All of us are thankful that this situation was resolved successfully and without incident, and we appreciate the support and cooperation we received from our students and staff who adhered to the shelter-in-place restriction. On behalf of the University, I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts of the responding law enforcement agencies who assisted in our investigation.

In acknowledgment of the impact of this situation on the community, the University will have a delayed opening for offices at noon on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Classes with start times at-or-after 12 noon will meet as scheduled.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy
President


Photos by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response



Large Police Presence Searching For Armed Subject At Monmouth University

March 22, 2023

WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ (MONMOUTH)–At 9:15 p.m. Monmouth University is on a “Shelter In Place” for students as police search for an armed subject reported on campus. A large police presence is on scene including several local police departments and Federal agencies such as the FBI.

Further details will be posted as information becomes available.


Photos by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response






Long Branch Man Indicted For West Long Branch Shooting

January 25, 2023

FREEHOLDA Monmouth County Grand Jury has returned a three-count indictment against a Long Branch man in connection with a shooting that left one victim injured, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Wednesday.

Donte Gibson, 27, of Long Branch, is charged with one count of first-degree Attempted Murder, one count of second-degree Possession of a Firearm for an Unlawful Purpose, and one count of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon.

At approximately 9:45 p.m. on the night of Monday, October 10, 2022, West Long Branch Police responded to a convenience store on the 800 block of Broadway for a report of shots being fired. It was later discovered that a shooting victim had been dropped off at a local hospital for treatment. The victim sustained injuries to his hip and forearm, and was treated and later released.

This shooting incident was one of three that took place that same day. The two other incidents, both in Long Branch, are still under investigation at this time.  

For anyone with information regarding these shooting incidents, please contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Joshua Rios or Brian Migliorisi at 800-533-7443, Long Branch Police Department Detective Nicholas Romano at 732-222-1000, Ext. 2, or West Long Branch Police Department Detective Ryan Buck at 732-229-5000.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogner, Director of the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau.

Gibson is represented by Carlos Diaz-Cobo Esq., of New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.


Red Bank Man Charged With Numerous “Upskirting” Involving Juveniles

January 18, 2023

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH) – A local man charged late last year with taking “upskirting” photos of two women in a Shrewsbury Borough supermarket has been rearrested and charged with numerous similar additional offenses, including eight involving victims who are believed to be juveniles, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Tuesday.  

Christopher W. Cox, 33, of Red Bank is charged with eight counts of second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, nine counts of third-degree Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials, nine counts of third-degree Invasion of Privacy, two counts of fourth-degree Criminal Sexual Contact, and a single count of fourth-degree Possession of a Large-Capacity Gun Magazine.  

An investigation involving members of the MCPO Special Victims Bureau and the Shrewsbury Borough Police Department has revealed the following facts:

Shortly before 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 20, 2022, a man later identified as Cox was seen entering the ShopRite of Shrewsbury on Shrewsbury Avenue, and shortly thereafter he began following female shoppers around the store, using his cell phone in a manner indicating that he was surreptitiously taking photos of them from behind. Cox was then seen exiting the store and leaving the area in a white Dodge Durango.  

About a week later, shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday, October 27, 2022, Cox was pulled over on Newman Springs Road in Red Bank. After initially obeying a command from an officer to exit his vehicle, Cox then quickly reentered the SUV and sped away from the scene, with the officer releasing his grip on him in order to avoid getting dragged by the vehicle. Cox was located in Little Silver shortly thereafter and taken into custody without incident.

The investigation ultimately led to the seizure of the aforementioned large-capacity gun magazine and numerous digital video files in Cox’s possession, most depicting girls and women being surreptitiously filmed from below using a cell phone placed in a grocery basket, duffel bag, or other means of conveyance. The incidents took place at the following times and locations:

  • Shortly before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at the ShopRite Wines & Spirits on South Avenue East in Westfield (Union County);
  • Shortly before 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at the ShopRite supermarket on West Grand Street in Elizabeth (Union County);
  • Shortly before 1:15 p.m. on Monday, May 30, 2022 at the ShopRite of Shrewsbury;
  • Shortly before 4 p.m. on Friday, July 1, 2022 at an unspecified Walmart;
  • Shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Monday, July 4, 2022 at the ShopRite supermarket at the intersection of routes 36 and 71 in West Long Branch;
  • Shortly after 2:45 p.m. on Monday, July 4, 2022 at an unspecified Foodtown supermarket;
  • Shortly before 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 10, 2022 at the Whole Foods supermarket on Route 35 in Middletown; and
  • Shortly before 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, September 18, 2022 at the ShopRite of Shrewsbury.

The investigation further determined that Cox has recently been employed as a plumber. The Criminal Sexual Contact charges against him are connected to incidents taking place on Friday, November 11, 2022 and Monday, January 2, 2023 in which he surreptitiously videotaped himself rubbing his pelvic area on clients while in their homes, in one case exposing himself and performing a lewd act.

This case has been assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Lavender of the Special Victims Bureau. Cox is being represented by Christian Fleming, Esq., with an office in East Brunswick.

Cox was last arrested during a traffic stop in Shrewsbury Borough on Thursday, January 12. A detention hearing in this case has been tentatively scheduled to take place on Thursday, January 19. The State has filed a motion to keep Cox detained as the case against him proceeds.

“The conduct being alleged and the frequency of the incidents associated with the charges announced today are equally concerning and disturbing,” Prosecutor Santiago said. “We are urging anyone who believes they may have been a victim of Mr. Cox to please come forward and tell us what they know.”

A recent photo of Cox is being released along with this press release. Anyone with information about this matter is urged to contact MCPO Detective Sgt. Shawn Murphy at 800-533-7443 or Shrewsbury Borough Police Department Detective Daniel DeCristofaro at 732-741-2500, Ext. 230.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about this or any crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android – https://www.p3tips.com/1182), by calling 800-671-4400, or by going to the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com.

Convictions on second-degree criminal charges are punishable by up to 10 years in state prison.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.


Christopher W. Cox, 33, of Red Bank is charged with eight counts of second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, nine counts of third-degree Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials, nine counts of third-degree Invasion of Privacy, two counts of fourth-degree Criminal Sexual Contact, and a single count of fourth-degree Possession of a Large-Capacity Gun Magazine.  


Jackson Man Charged With Robbing West Long Branch Check-Cashing Business Of $700,000.

October 28, 2022

FREEHOLD – An Ocean County man has been arrested and charged with committing a daytime robbery of a West Long Branch check-cashing business that netted $700,000, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Friday.   

Travis A. Bryant, 41, of Jackson is charged with first-degree Robbery, second-degree Burglary, and fourth-degree Possession of an Imitation Handgun.

At approximately 9 a.m. on Thursday, November 2, 2017, members of the West Long Branch Police Department responded to the check-cashing business on Route 36 on a report of a silent alarm activation. At that location, officers found a lone employee, who advised that a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt pulled tightly around his face and sunglasses had just robbed the store of a large quantity of cash.

It was quickly determined that the man had entered the store when no customers were present and used a ladder to access and climb through ceiling ducts in order to access a secured, employees-only area of the business where cash was stored. After falling through the ceiling, Bryant reportedly approached the store employee, indicating that he was in possession of a weapon, and ordered her into the store bathroom while he made off with her purse, cell phone, and approximately $700,000 in cash, driving away in a van.

An intensive, long-term investigation by members of the West Long Branch Police Department and a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) resulted in Bryant being identified as a suspect in the case, and he was arrested without incident yesterday and lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) pending a first appearance and detention hearing to take place in Monmouth County Superior Court.

This case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogner, Director of the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau, members of which also assisted in the investigation. Information on Bryant’s legal representation was not immediately available.

Convictions on first-degree crimes are commonly punishable by terms of 10 to 20 years in state prison.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

West Long Branch Man Indicted For Lewdness And Possession Of Child Sexual Abuse Material

October 15, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)—A Monmouth County grand jury has returned a three-count indictment against a West Long Branch man accused of being in possession of cocaine, having child sexual abuse files stored on a drive connected with his email address, and videotaping himself while masturbating in a local park, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Friday.  

Michael K. Russo, 51, is charged with third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child via Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material, third-degree Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, and fourth-degree Lewdness.

Russo was among more than a dozen people arrested since April as the result of a series of investigations led by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and the Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. In this case, the investigation, initiated by a referral from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), revealed that Russo had uploaded several dozen digital files constituting child sexual abuse material to his Google Drive over the span of about nine months in 2019.

Additional evidence recovered during the course of the investigation served as the basis for the two additional charges; according to the evidence, Russo allegedly exposed himself while at a public park in Asbury Park on or around July 25, 2019.

The Monmouth County ICAC Task Force includes members of the following police departments: Bradley Beach, Eatontown, Howell, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlboro, Neptune Township, Spring Lake, Tinton Falls, Keyport, Keansburg, Belmar, Holmdel, and Red Bank; the Task Force also receives investigative support from the police departments in Long Branch, Colts Neck, Highlands, Hazlet, Howell, Union Beach, Keansburg, Red Bank, West Long Branch, Ocean Township, Freehold Township, and Freehold Borough, as well as the New Jersey State Police (Hamilton Barracks).

This case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Russo is being represented by Joshua Hood, Esq., with an office in Freehold.

Anyone with information about Russo’s activities is being asked to contact MCPO Detective Michael Arduini at 1-800-533-7443.

Convictions on charges of this nature are punishable by up to five years in state prison, as well as the defendant being registered under Megan’s Law and assigned parole supervision for life.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.