Category: Lakewood

Wild School Bus Crash Reported In Lakewood With 15 Students Aboard

September 14, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–A bus crash occurred on Forrest Avenue carrying at least 15 students on board around 8:00 a.m.

The Lakewood Scoop (see link for more photos and updates) reports that there were 15 girls on board the bus at the time of the crash. Luckily it appears to be minor injuries and did not require immediate hospitalization. Dozens of emergency personnel were on scene evaluating the students.

Photos provided by: The Lakewood Scoop:

Two Accidents Early This Morning In Lakewood

August 27, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–There were two separate accidents early this morning in Lakewood. The first accident was before 1:00 a.m. where two vehicles collided at the intersection of Circle Place and Central Avenue. One person was transported to the hospital and a fire hydrant was damaged.


In a second accident around 3:00 a.m. one person injured after vehicle overturns after crashing into a pole. The vehicle struck a pole and a tree causing his vehicle to overturn at the intersection of Carey Street & Madison Avenue in Lakewood. First Aid, Fire Volunteers & Chaveirim members heard a loud bang and went to the street to investigate. Upon arrival they found an overturned vehicle with one subject trapped inside. The first aid unit immediately called for additional units and extrication while the volunteers attempted to remove the patient. The First Aid, Fire & Chaveirim volunteers managed to remove the patient and he was transported by Hatzolah to Jersey Shore University Medical Center with Paramedics on board. JCP&L was requested to the scene to repair a pole which was damaged in the accident.

Lakewood Man Sentenced To State Prison For Shooting 4-Year-Old Asbury Park Girl

August 11, 2021

A Lakewood man has been sentenced for his role in the 2020 shooting of a four-year-old Asbury Park girl, announced Monmouth County Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

Sciaire N. Jackson, 28, was sentenced on Wednesday August 11, 2021, to 8 years in a New Jersey State Prison, by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Lourdes Lucas. The sentence is subject to the provisions of NERA, the “No Early Release Act,” requiring Jackson to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for parole. Jackson had previously pleaded guilty to second degree Aggravated Assault and second degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose on June 21, 2021.

At approximately 1:35 p.m. on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, a 4-year-old child was shot while sitting outside her family’s home with other family members on Boston Way, a residential village in Asbury Park.  The child was shot in the upper thigh area, breaking the femur bone. Physicians treating the child at the time deemed the injury as serious, but non-life threatening.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Asbury Park Police Department revealed that Jackson rode up on a bicycle and began firing a handgun at several people located outside of an apartment.  The child, who was merely playing outside, was not the intended target of the shooting. A second person returned fire at Jackson; that person, however, has not has not yet been identified.

The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Lawrence H. Nelsen, III.

Jackson is represented by Robert C. Wolf Esq., of Westmont.


U.S. Department Of Labor Cites Central NJ Medical Facility, Staffing Agency For Exposing Nurses to Coronavirus Hazards

OSHA finds employers failed to ensure safe respirator use while testing hundreds daily

August 4, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–A Central New Jersey medical facility and temporary staffing agency failed to ensure the safety and health of nurses giving flu shots and testing potentially infectious patients for the coronavirus earlier this year, a U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation has found.

OSHA’s investigation – initiated in January in response to a complaint – found that Lakewood Resource and Referral Center did not provide medical evaluations to determine each employee’s ability to use a respirator before they required workers to use them, and failed to fit test employees required to wear respirators. The agency proposed $273,064 after citing the facility for two willful violations. In 2020, OSHA cited the facility for similar hazards after the company failed to protect staff providing medical and dental care from coronavirus.

Investigators also found Homecare Therapies failed to ensure medical evaluations were done and did not provide fit tests for workers required to use respirators. OSHA cited the staffing agency for two serious citations with $13,653 in proposed penalties.

“A safe and healthful workplace is every worker’s right and every employer’s responsibility,” said OSHA Area Office Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey. “In this case, both employers failed to protect vital frontline healthcare workers from exposure to the coronavirus.”

Lakewood Resource and Referral Center Inc., which operates as the Center for Health, Education, Medicine and Dentistry in Lakewood, contracted with Homecare Therapies – doing business as Horizon Healthcare Staffing – in October 2020 for temporary nurses to assist staff with the administration of flu vaccines initially. After the assignments began, the facility required nurses to administer 200 to 300 coronavirus tests each day for patients and the public.

Founded in 2009, Lakewood Resource and Referral Center Inc. provides preventative, treatment and health education services in Lakewood and the surrounding areas. Licensed in New York and accredited in New Jersey, Homecare Therapies LLC has operations in Manalapan. It has provided services in the New York metropolitan area since 1992.

Read more about feasible and acceptable means of abatement for this hazard.

The employers have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

On March 12, OSHA launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

On June 10, OSHA also issued an emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare workers from contracting coronavirus. The ETS became effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register.

View OSHA’s COVID-19 information and resources. Agency Occupational Safety & Health Administration Date August 4, 2021Release Number 21-1430-NEW


Lakewood Woman Charged With Counterfeiting

August 4, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on August 4, 2021, Courtney C. Michaels, 25, of Lakewood Township, was charged with Counterfeiting in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-32c.

This charge is a result of an investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad and Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations. The investigation revealed that Michaels was importing large volumes of counterfeit designer handbags, jewelry, and clothing from overseas. She advertised the goods as designer brands including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci, and sold those goods across the United States through her online retail websites. The merchandise was not authentic, and was being sold at a fraction of the cost of genuine merchandise.

On August 4, 2021, a search warrant was executed at Michaels’ residence in Lakewood Township where Detectives seized numerous counterfeit items. Michaels was processed at the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office and released on a summons pending a future court appearance.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).



Lakewood Man Indicted For Attempted Murder

August 2, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on July 28, 2021, Stanley Williams, 25, of Lakewood, was indicted by a Grand Jury sitting in Ocean County on two counts of Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3; Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1); Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(5)(a); Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b(2); and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d, relative to an incident that occurred in Lakewood Township during the evening hours of April 17, 2021, into the early morning hours of April 18, 2021.

On April 17, 2021, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Lakewood Township Police Officers responded to a residence on Lisa Robyn Circle in reference to an alleged disturbance. As responding Officers were attempting to make contact with Williams at the residence, he attacked the Officers with a knife, wounding both Officers about the head and face. Williams then barricaded himself in the residence. After all efforts to effectuate Williams’ peaceful surrender were exhausted, the Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team – with assistance from the Ocean County Regional SWAT team – made a tactical entry into the residence at approximately 2:30 a.m. on April 18, 2021. As Officers made entry into the residence, Williams discharged a BB gun in the Officers’ direction, striking one of the Officers. The Officers in question were treated for their injuries, which were determined to be non-life-threatening.

Williams was ultimately taken into custody, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his arrest on April 18, 2021.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco, Assistant Prosecutor Genna Moscato, and Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Esler, who are handling the case on behalf of the State, and commends the Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team, and the Ocean County Regional SWAT Team, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation leading to William’s indictment.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).


Lakewood, New Jersey Business Owner Charged in Alleged Workers’ Compensation Insurance Premium Fraud Scheme

July 26, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor announced that the owner of an Ocean County real estate improvement company has been charged in connection with an alleged scheme to provide false payroll information in order to obtain lower premiums on workers’ compensation coverage.

Zechariah Greenspan, 37, owner of Mulberry Management, L.L.C. (“Mulberry Management”) in Lakewood, was indicted July 7, 2021 on second-degree charges of insurance fraud, theft by deception and misconduct by a corporate official for allegedly providing false and misleading statements to New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group in order to obtain lower premiums on the workers’ compensation insurance he is legally obligated to provide employees.

According to the indictment, between July 2016, and March 2018, Greenspan committed five or more acts of insurance fraud by submitting false documents, making false or misleading statements, and omitting material facts that misrepresented the amount of wages that Mulberry Management paid to its individual uninsured subcontractors, and that Mulberry Management had paid an insured subcontractor – ZG Holdings, L.L.C. (“ZG Holdings”), which he also owns – for subcontractor work.

Greenspan committed theft by deception by obtaining workers compensation insurance at a lower premium by significantly underreporting his payroll to individual uninsured subcontractors, and by submitting false records indicating Mulberry Management had paid ZG Holdings for subcontractor work and that ZG Holdings had sufficient workers’ compensation coverage for said work, when in fact, he knew that Mulberry Management had not paid ZG Holdings for subcontractor work and/or that ZG Holdings lacked sufficient workers’ compensation insurance for said work, according to the indictment.

Greenspan is charged with misconduct by a corporate official for using Mulberry Management and/or ZG Holdings to commit the aforementioned crimes, according to the indictment.

Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000.

Deputy Attorney General Melvina D. Fennell presented the case to the State Grand Jury for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor under the supervision of Private Insurance Bureau Chief Cheryl Maccaroni. Under the supervision of Lieutenant Anne Hayes, Investigator Thomas Andreopoulos coordinated the investigation with Analysts Terry Worthington and Jordan Thompson, along with Detective Matthew Armstrong.

Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy Thompson noted that many cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution, and conviction for insurance fraud.

The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


Garbage Truck Fire In Lakewood

July 13, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Around noon the Lakewood Fire Department responded to a garbage truck fire at Ocean Avenue and Congress Street. It was reported that an electric scooter caught fire in the garbage truck and the truck had to dump the load so firefighters could extinguish the fire. The garbage truck also hit wires when the contents that were on fire had to be unloaded quickly.

No further information is available at this time.


Fatal Crash In Lakewood

July 6, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on July 5, 2021, at approximately 9:30 p.m., the Lakewood Township Police Department responded to the area of Cedarbridge Avenue and Clover Street for a report of a serious motor vehicle crash.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit revealed that a 2009 Infinity G37, operated by a juvenile and containing two passengers, Hector Martinez, age 18, of Toms River and another juvenile, were traveling eastbound on Cedarbridge Avenue approaching the cross street of Clover Street at a high rate of speed. An unidentified vehicle was in the left-hand turn lane attempting to make a left-hand turn onto Clover Street. The juvenile operator of the Infinity G37 attempted to navigate around that vehicle and lost control of the Vehicle. The vehicle left the roadway and struck the face of a building. The vehicle overturned and came to an uncontrolled rest on its hood. The juvenile passenger, who was seated in the rear of the vehicle, was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced deceased at the scene. The juvenile operator and Mr. Martinez were both transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune to be treated for their injuries.

This remains an active investigation by the Ocean County Vehicular Homicide Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit.


Photos by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

Egg Harbor Man Indicted For Attempted Murder And Aggravated Arson In Lakewood

June 24, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 24, 2021, Jamal Preston, 26, of Egg Harbor Township, was indicted by a Grand Jury sitting in Ocean County on a charge of Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), in connection with a fire he intentionally set to a residential home in Lakewood on August 22, 2020.  Preston was also indicted on four counts of Aggravated Arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a.

On August 22, 2020, the Lakewood Township Police Department responded to a report of a fire at a residence in Lakewood.  An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshals Office, and New Jersey State Fire Marshals K-9 Unit, determined that the fire had been intentionally set utilizing an ignitable liquid and an open flame.  Further investigation determined that Preston did, in fact, intentionally set the fire while the residence was occupied by three individuals.  Preston fled the scene, but was arrested at a motel in Absecon by the United States Marshals Service on August 31, 2020.  He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his apprehension.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the diligent efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill who is handling the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshals Office, New Jersey State Fire Marshals K-9 Unit, United States Marshals Service, Egg Harbor Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Berkeley Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and South Toms River Police Department, for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation resulting in today’s indictment.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  

R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).


2 Alarm For Well Involved Commercial Building In Lakewood

LAKEWOOD, NJ (0CEAN)–Around 4:30 a.m. Lakewood Police department received 9-1-1 calls reporting a possible structure fire in the area of 357 357 Squankum Road and Engine 5 was dispatched. Upon arrival police confirmed and reported a working fire, reporting flames from the 2nd floor. Engine 5 laid a supply line and started an interior attack and a 2nd alarm was called for sending additional equipment to the scene from Lakewood and surrounding towns.

Lakewood and surrounding departments battled the fire for a good 30 minutes to knock down the main body of fire and took an additional hour to bring the fully under control.

The Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire.

No other information is available at this time.

MidJersey.News has reached out to Lakewood Police Department but has not received a reply as of this afternoon.

Photos and video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response




Lakewood – Brick Township 167 Acre Wildfire Update

June 14, 2021

LAKEWOOD-BRICK, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has announced that the investigation into the wildland fire that occurred on Sunday, March 14, 2021, in Lakewood Township and Brick Township, though ongoing, presently remains at an impasse.  The investigation is being conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit – Arson Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit.

“On March 19, 2021, we announced that the fire’s origin had been identified, along with our conclusion that the fire was intentionally set.  Since that time, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad – working in conjunction with the other involved law enforcement agencies – has been attempting to identify the individual or individuals responsible for starting this horrific wildfire, which resulted in the destruction of approximately 167 acres of land, the obliteration of a commercial establishment, a firefighter suffering cardiac arrest while battling the blaze, and the evacuation of hundreds of people from the area,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “Detectives have attempted to interview approximately 60 potential witnesses and reviewed video recordings from cameras in proximity to the fire.  The vast majority of these potential witnesses have been less than cooperative with our investigation, and as such, we are currently at an impasse at this point in time.  If any member of the public in possession of information with regard to the March 14th wildland fire in Lakewood and Brick Townships to please contact Sergeant Thomas Haskell of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3953,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.



Photos and video by: Jersey Shore Fire Response

Road Rage: Lakewood Man Charged With Vehicular Homicide That Killed Brick Man

June 12, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 12, 2021, Avrohom Pam, 18, of Lakewood, was charged with Vehicular Homicide in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5a, relative to a motor vehicle crash that occurred in Lakewood Township in the early evening hours of June 11, 2021 – resulting in the death of Sean Avon, 26, of Brick Township.

On June 11, 2021, at approximately 5:15 p.m., Lakewood Township Police were summoned to the area of Lanes Mills Road for a report of a serious motor vehicle crash. An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Squad, Lakewood Township Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, revealed that Pam was driving a 2021 Ford Van in the rightmost lane of travel on Lanes Mills Road, when he struck a 2019 Honda CRV being driven by John Arendt, Jr., 73, of Brick Township. The force of the collision propelled Mr. Arendt’s vehicle into the northbound lane of traffic where it struck a 2012 Ford Mustang head-on being driven by Mr. Avon. Further investigation revealed that a verbal altercation had occurred between Pam and Mr. Arendt which precipitated the motor vehicle crash.

Mr. Avon suffered serious injuries as a result of the crash; he was transported to Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased. Mr. Arendt was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment of his injuries; he is listed in stable condition. Pam remained on the scene and did not require medical attention. Pam was transported to Ocean Medical Center for a blood draw, pursuant to a court authorized warrant. Pam was subsequently processed at Lakewood Township Police Headquarters and transported to the Ocean County Jail where he is currently lodged pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit – Vehicular Homicide Squad, Lakewood Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their combined assistance in connection with this investigation.

“Initial investigation reveals that this is a tragedy of epic proportions for Mr. Avon and his family and an unfortunate consequence of aggressive driving. This investigation is active and ongoing and may result in additional charges,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “Anyone is possession of information concerning this investigation is urged to contact Detective Anthony Carrington, III, of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-9027, or Detective Patrick Kearns of the Lakewood Township Police Department at 732-363-0200,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Lakewood Shooting Under Investigation

June 5, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit are investigating a shooting that occurred on June 4, 2021, in Lakewood Township.

At approximately 9:45 p.m., Lakewood Township Police were summoned to the area of Martin Luther King Boulevard for a report of a victim with a gunshot wound. Officers found a thirty year-old male victim with a gunshot wound to the back. The victim was transported to Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus in Lakewood where he is reported to be in stable condition.

This is an active and ongoing investigation. Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is urged to contact Detective Anthony Carrington of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027 or Detective Michael Cavallo of the Lakewood Township Police Department at 732-363-0200.

Lakewood Men Indicted For Murder In Howell Township Slaying

June 1, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Omar Rivera-Rojas (also known as Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas), 31, and his nephew Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, 19, both of Lakewood, were indicted by a Monmouth County Grand Jury today for Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Murder, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon and Tampering with Evidence, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

The Howell Township Police Department responded to a 911 call at about 3:46 a.m. on October 18, 2019, reporting an unconscious male lying in Hurley Pond Road just east of Route 547. Upon arrival, a male was located lying face down in the roadway. The incident was initially investigated as a fatal hit-and-run motor vehicle incident. However, upon the arrival of SCART investigators it was quickly determined that his death was not the result of a hit and run event.

The man, identified as Domingo Merino-Rafael, 33, also of Lakewood, was unresponsive and obviously deceased. MONOC personnel responded and the victim was pronounced deceased at 4:12 a.m. by doctors at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. Rafael was taken to the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office where a post-mortem examination performed by Medical Examiner Allison Mautone, M.D., and the staff of the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was a Homicide.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Howell Township Police Department determined Rivera-Rojas, Rojas-Hernandez, and Merino-Rafael traveled from Lakewood to Middlesex County on the evening of October 17, 2019. The men were returning to Lakewood in the early morning hours of October 18, 2019, when the trio got into an argument that culminated with the uncle and nephew pair killing Merino-Rafael.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Howell Township Police Department also credited the Lakewood Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance during the investigation.

Rojas-Hernandez, of Joe Parker Avenue in Lakewood is being held in the Youth Detention Center in North Brunswick where he has been in custody since his arrest in October 2019. Rojas-Hernandez who was just 7 months shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the murder was previously waived to adult court to face the charges alongside his uncle and co-conspirator. Rivera-Rojas has also been detained since his arrest.

If convicted of Murder, Rivera-Rojas and Rojas-Hernandez each face a minimum sentence of 30 years in a New Jersey State Prison without parole and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring them to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan and Assistant Prosecutor Tara Wilson.

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

Rivera-Rojas is represented by Joseph Champagne, Esq. of Toms River, 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.

Serious Pedestrian Accident In Lakewood

May 28, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Last night around 11:00 p.m. (May 27, 2021), there was a serious car vs. pedestrian accident on Central Avenue.

The patient was treated/transported by Lakewood First Aid along with Hatzolah EMS and RWJ Paramedics. The patient was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center Trauma Center.

Central Ave was closed as Lakewood Police conducted the investigation.

No additional details available at this time.

Lakewood Man Sentenced To 8 Years For Robbery

May 5, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on May 5, 2021, Elioenai Aguinaga, 32, of Lakewood, was sentenced by the Honorable Rochelle Gizinski, J.S.C., to eight years New Jersey State Prison as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Robbery in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(2). This sentence is subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, meaning that Aguinaga will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility. Aguinaga pled guilty to the charge before Judge Gizinski on January 27, 2021.

On March 26, 2020, Officers of the Lakewood Township Police Department were summoned to Taylor’s Pharmacy on Madison Avenue for a report of a robbery. Responding Officers learned that a male suspect had entered the pharmacy, brandished a semi-automatic handgun at the store clerk, and demanded money from the cash register. The suspect took approximately $130 and fled the pharmacy.

A subsequent investigation by the Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau ultimately determined that Aguinaga was, in fact, the individual who committed the robbery at Taylor’s Pharmacy on March 26th. On April 25, 2020, Aguinaga was arrested by Officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department. He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since the date of his apprehension.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Kaitlyn Burke who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the diligence and resolve exhibited by Officers of the Lakewood Township Police Department and Detective Bureau in their investigation of this matter which resulted in Aguinaga’s guilty plea, and ultimately the lengthy state prison sentence imposed today.


Defendant Charged With 2 Counts of Attempted Murder On Lakewood Police Officers To Remain Detained Pending Trial

April 30, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on April 30, 2021, the Honorable Wendel E. Daniels, P.J.Cr.P., ordered that Stanley Williams, 25, of Lakewood, shall remain detained in the Ocean County Jail pending trial on two counts of Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), relative to an incident that occurred in Lakewood Township during the evening hours of April 17, 2021, into the early morning hours of April 18, 2021. Williams has also been charged with Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(5)(a); Possession of a Weapon, specifically a knife, for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and Possession of a Weapon, specifically a BB gun, for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1).

On April 17, 2021, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Lakewood Township Police Officers responded to a residence on Lisa Robyn Circle relative to an alleged disturbance. As responding Officers were attempting to make contact with Williams at the residence, he allegedly attacked the Officers with a knife, wounding both Officers about the head and face. Williams then allegedly barricaded himself in the residence. After all efforts to effectuate Williams’ peaceful surrender were exhausted, the Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team – with assistance from the Ocean County Regional SWAT team – made a tactical entry into the residence at approximately 2:30 a.m. on April 18, 2021. As Officers made entry into the residence, Williams allegedly discharged a BB gun in the Officers’ direction, striking one of the Officers. The Officers in question were treated for their injuries, which were determined to be non-life-threatening.

Williams was ultimately taken into custody, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his arrest on April 18, 2021. The detention hearing was handled by Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Esler.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team, and the Ocean County Regional SWAT Team, for the outstanding professionalism and restraint they collectively exhibited in conducting this investigation and taking Williams into custody.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Related MidJersey.news coverage here:

Lakewood Barricaded Man That Reportedly Attacked And Injured 2 Police Officers In Custody

UPDATE: Barricaded Man Charged With Attempted Murder On 2 Police Officers And Other Offences In 8 Hour Lakewood Standoff Last Night


Photos and video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response



Lakewood Overturned With Entrapment Sends 2 To Hospital

April 30, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–A two vehicle accident around 2:22 pm at the intersection of Oak Street and New Hampshire Avenue left a vehicle overturned and a patient who needed to be extricated. Lakewood First Aid Squad, Hatzolah, and Lakewood Fire Department all responded to the scene. Lakewood FD set up fire suppression while the first aid squad did the extrication. Hatzolah and Lakewood First Aid transported the two patients to Ocean Medical Center in Brick.


Photo credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop

Lakewood, NJ Man Found Dead After Pursuit In Saratoga County, NY

April 29, 2021

SARATOGA, NY — On April 28, 2021 the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office became aware of a suspicious vehicle complaint being handled by the U.S. Park Rangers at the Saratoga Battlefield in the Town of Stillwater. The vehicle reportedly struck barriers at the park entrance and subsequently fled from the Rangers. The vehicle continued north on NY State Route 32 after which the Rangers lost sight of it.

While checking the area for the vehicle, the Stillwater Police Department located it traveling southbound on NY State Route 4. The vehicle continued to flee from police and proceeded south though the Village of Stillwater before reaching the City of Mechanicville where it passed though and continued westbound on NY State Route 67.

The vehicle ultimately reached U.S. Route 9 where it turned south and struck signs in the roundabout at Routes 9 and 67. It proceeded south on Route 9 when it crossed over to the northbound lane and struck a guardrail on the east side of the roadway near Goldfoot Road in the Town of Malta and came to a stop. The operator was found deceased inside the vehicle.

The operator of the vehicle that fled from police was identified as Robert A. Sanders (age 48) of Lakewood, NJ Mr. Sanders was operating a silver 2008 Toyota Tundra with NJ registration H50JUZ. The vehicle had a large brown tool box in the bed.

The Sherriff’s Office is requesting anyone who might have encountered Mr. Sanders recently to contact the Sherriff’s Office at (518) 885-6761

Other police agencies involve were: U.S. Park Rangers, NY State Police, Mechanicville Police Department, Stillwater Police Department, and the New York Attorney General’s Office. The NY State DOT, Saratoga County OES, Round Lake Fire and Malta EMS also responded to the scene.



AG Grewal Announces Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Jackson Township for Using Zoning Powers to Exclude and Discriminate Against Orthodox Jews

April 27, 2021

JACKSON, NJ (OCEAN)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today that the State has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Jackson Township alleging that Township authorities violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination by using their zoning powers to make it harder for Orthodox Jews to practice their religion and to deter them from moving there.

The State’s complaint alleges the Jackson’s adoption of discriminatory zoning ordinances and enforcement practices was motivated in part by officials’ desire to appease Township residents who reacted to the Township’s growing Orthodox Jewish population by expressing hate and fear on social media, in complaints to Township officials, and in public meetings.

“We’ve filed this lawsuit because bias and hate have no home in New Jersey, and we will not allow some vocal residents’ intolerance to drive local government decisions,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Like all public servants, municipal officials have a duty to uphold the law, not weaponize it against specific groups because of what they believe or how they worship. Today’s lawsuit should send that message to anyone in New Jersey who needs to hear it.”   

Filed on behalf of Attorney General Grewal and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) in state Superior Court in Ocean County, the four-count complaint names as defendants Jackson Township, the Jackson Township Council, the Jackson Township Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Jackson Township Planning Board, and Mayor Michael Reina in his official capacity.

Jackson Township borders Lakewood, a municipality that has more than 50,000 Orthodox Jewish residents and that is home to the second largest yeshiva—a type of Orthodox Jewish religious school—in the world. 

According to the State’s complaint, starting around 2015, a vocal group of Jackson residents began complaining to local officials about an influx of Orthodox Jews into Jackson Township. Some residents have amplified their views in hateful social media posts, which have included statements like “we need to get rid of them like Hitler did” and “filthy f’ing cockroaches.”

The complaint alleges that some Jackson officials sympathized with residents’ anger and fear that Jackson was “becoming a subdivision of Lakewood.”

In response, officials devised plans to create and enforce rules that would stymie the religious observances of Orthodox Jews in Jackson and, as one former Zoning Board member said in a Facebook post, quell “the tsunami of orthodoxy that is mounting at the border.”

Through ordinances and enforcement actions, the complaint alleges, Jackson Township exploited its power to regulate land use and housing to disrupt vital aspects of Orthodox Jewish life in Jackson and to interfere with the ability of observant Orthodox Jews to live there.

“This lawsuit shows that the Attorney General and the Division on Civil Rights stand ready to address discrimination in all its forms, whenever and wherever it occurs throughout the state,” said Aaron Scherzer, Chief of Strategic Initiatives and Enforcement at the Division on Civil Rights. “We will not allow municipalities to discriminate against residents because of their religious beliefs or to take actions based on residents’ intolerance. Instead, as we confront a rising tide of bias across the state and around the country, we need our local leaders to set an example for how to address intolerance and persistent othering.”

The State’s complaint highlights four strategies deployed by Jackson Township to target aspects of Orthodox Jewish religious practice.

First, Township officials allegedly engaged in targeted and discriminatory surveillance of the homes of Orthodox Jews suspected of hosting communal prayer gatherings. Jackson’s zoning code requires permits for places of worship, but there are constitutional limits on municipalities’ ability to use their zoning authority to restrict the free exercise of religion, and government officials cannot discriminate on the basis of religion.

The State’s complaint alleges that Jackson Township dedicated significant resources to monitoring the homes of Orthodox Jews, at the direction of Mayor Reina and others, even after officials warned that taxpayer funds and government resources were being wasted and that officials were not finding significant code violations. Mayor Reina allegedly has stated that, if these were churches instead of Orthodox Jewish places of worship, he would “absolutely not” be fighting them in the same manner.

Second, the complaint alleges that Jackson Township officials engaged in discriminatory application of land use laws to inhibit the erection of sukkahs by the Township’s Jewish residents, particularly in their front yards. Sukkahs are temporary open-air structures constructed to mark Sukkot, a weeklong Jewish holiday celebrating the fall harvest.

According to the complaint, after residents began to question and complain about the appearance of sukkahs, Jackson Township officials modified their interpretation of a local ordinance to effectively prohibit sukkahs in front yards. The complaint alleges that the Township’s new enforcement policy discriminated against Jewish residents.

Third, Jackson officials allegedly discriminated against Orthodox Jews by enacting zoning ordinances in 2017 that essentially banned the establishment of yeshivas and dormitories, where yeshiva students typically reside so as to avoid the distractions of secular life. According to the complaint, as Jackson officials were considering whether to effectively prohibit religious schools, a former member of the Zoning Board warned Mayor Reina that “Jackson will be sued and it will cost the taxpayers dearly to defend the ordinance, potentially millions.”

Fourth, the complaint alleges that Jackson discriminated against Orthodox Jews by enacting a 2017 zoning ordinance that targeted and effectively banned the creation of eruvim – symbolic, boundary-defined areas in which observant Orthodox Jews are permitted to engage in certain activities otherwise prohibited on the Sabbath (Friday evening to Saturday evening) and during the holiday of Yom Kippur. The boundaries of an eruv are often marked by affixing plastic strips known as “lechis” to utility poles.

The State’s complaint alleges that each of these policies and enforcement actions reflects Jackson Township officials’ acquiescence to – and often solidarity with – anti-Orthodox-Jewish bias voiced by certain residents about Orthodox Jews including that they “refuse to assimilate” and that they will “destroy our neighborhoods.”

Among the places where residents have voiced such animus is the Facebook page for a group called Rise Up Ocean County. DCR called on Facebook to monitor the page in April 2019 after receiving reports of its antisemitic content. Facebook eventually removed the page from its platform in early 2020 for violating the company’s community standards for hate speech.

One of the State’s four claims—involving the allegedly discriminatory enactment of ordinances barring yeshivas and their dormitories—overlaps with allegations in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against Jackson Township in May 2020. The federal lawsuit alleges that the Township passed the ordinances, and the planning board has applied those ordinances, in a manner that discriminated against the Orthodox Jewish community, in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 and the Fair Housing Act.

The State’s complaint asks the court to find that each of the challenged zoning practices violates the Law Against Discrimination, to issue an order prohibiting Jackson Township’s discrimination against the Orthodox Jewish community, and to impose civil penalties, among other relief.

The Jackson Township lawsuit is the second lawsuit filed against a New Jersey municipality by the State in recent years to stop discriminatory zoning practices targeting Orthodox Jews. In 2017, the State sued Mahwah Township after it adopted two allegedly discriminatory ordinances  one banning non-residents from using Mahwah’s public parks, the other banning the posting of “lechis” on utility poles located within the municipality. The Mahwah lawsuit was resolved through a settlement agreement in 2018.

Assistant Attorney General Mayur P. Saxena, and Deputy Attorneys General Renee Greenberg, Joanna R. Loomis, Micauri Vargas, and Eve Weissman, of the Affirmative Civil Rights & Labor Enforcement Section of the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, are handling the Jackson Township lawsuit on behalf of the State.

To file a discrimination complaint with DCR visit https://bias.njcivilrights.gov/ or call 1-833-NJDCR4U (833-653-2748).

Click to access Jackson-Complaint-Final-4.27.21.pdf


Hundreds Welcome Home Firefighter Who Was Hospitalized From Intentionally Set Fire In Lakewood On March 14, 2021

April 23, 2021

BRICK – LAKEWOOD – TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Brian Sauers who is a State of NJ Forrest Fire Service fire fighter, a volunteer member of East Dover Fire Company and municipal engineer for Lakewood was released from the hospital today. He was injured on March 14, 2021 at a fire that was determined to be intentionally set. Sauers was working the fire in back of the Lowe’s store on the Brick/Lakewood border when he had a medical emergency and has been hospitalized since.

Hundreds lined the sidewalk as he left the hospital and was escorted to a NJ Forrest Fire Service vehicle for a ride home. A motorcade of fire and other vehicles proceeded from the hospital to his home.


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


See more at the Lakewood Scoop

Video credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop


Video credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop

Related MidJersey.news story: BREAKING: Investigation reveals Lakewood wildfire was intentionally set, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office says


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


Truck Crashes Into Tree In Lakewood

April 23, 2021

By: Yossi Brander

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Around 12:30 am a truck took down a utility pole and wires before crashing into a tree on County Line Road and Route 9/Madison Ave. The driver was taken into custody for possible DWI. No further information about the crash is available.


Lakewood, NJ Man Pleaded Guilty To 1.5 Million Healthcare Fraud Against Blue Cross Blue Shield

April 19, 2021

An Ocean County, New Jersey, insurance producer today admitted filing false statements in connection with the delivery of $1.5 million in fraudulent claims by Blue Cross Blue Shield health care affiliates, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced today.

Jonas Knopf, 65, of Lakewood, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before Chief U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to an information charging him with one count of making false statements related to a health care benefits program.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Starting in 2009, Knopf was chief executive officer of Madison Financial Services (MFS) in Lakewood and a licensed insurance producer – a person who is licensed to sell insurance products. MFS was the parent company of two sham companies created by Knopf and others solely for the purpose of marketing health insurance coverage to people who were not, in fact, his employees. These companies purported to be located and doing business in Pennsylvania and created the appearance of employment status for hundreds of individuals, largely Lakewood residents, who were seeking health care coverage through BCBS benefit plans. The fraud lasted until March 2013, when the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance caused Knopf to surrender his Pennsylvania insurance producer’s license and cease operation in the state.

Knopf used false personal information, including false addresses, dates of birth, marital status and employment functions, to give BCBS the impression that his clients were actually employees being paid for services rendered. In total, the scheme caused the health care insurers to pay out $1.5 million in fraudulent claims.

The count of making false statements relating to a health care benefit program carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or twice the gross loss from the offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 19, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent In Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Mikulka; and Investigators of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefit Security Administration, under the direction of Regional Director Darren Cohen, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel V. Grady O’Malley and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Agnew of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.

21-139

Defense counsel: Michael Gilbert Esq., New York



UPDATE: Barricaded Man Charged With Attempted Murder On 2 Police Officers And Other Offences In 8 Hour Lakewood Standoff Last Night

April 18, 2021

Official information from Lakewood Police Department:

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Last evening on April 17, 2021, at approximately 7:10pm Officers Joseph Rusk and Matthew McAvoy responded to Lisa Robyn Circle after receiving a report that a male and female were involved in a verbal altercation. Upon their initial arrival they did not find anyone in need of assistance. After multiple checks of the area, they were flagged down by 50 year old Kadiatu Sesay. Ms. Sesay told the officers that she and a friend were conversing in the living room of her Lisa Robyn Circle home when suddenly her 25 year old son, Stanley Williams came down from his upstairs bedroom and began acting erratically.

She then escorted Officers Rusk and McAvoy back to her home. Upon entering the home, Williams has already retreated to his bedroom. The Officers, as well as back up Officer Seehausen who was now on scene, ascended to the third floor where they identified themselves and as they knocked on the bedroom door they requested Williams to come out. According to the Officers, Williams swiftly opened the door and without notice, hesitation or warning began striking Officer McAvoy and Rusk about the face and head with what appeared to be a knife. He continued to advance towards them as they stood in the stairway. All three Officers sought cover but not before Officers Rusk and McAvoy sustained injuries to their face and head. At that time, the decision was made to exit the home to access their injury and seek treatment. 

As additional units arrived, the exterior of the home was secured as they awaited the arrival of the Lakewood Police Department Special Response Team and Crisis Negotiator Sgt. Peter Aakjer. Sgt. Aakjer was able to establish contact with Mr. Williams in an effort to convince him to surrender. However, despite the intense and extensive conversation, Williams would not comply. 

At approximately 2:30 am the Lakewood SRT, along with assistance from the Ocean County SWAT,  made entry into the home. As the team made their way through the home, they encountered Williams as he sat on the staircase, armed with what appeared to be a handgun. he immediately retreated to his room. Efforts were again made to have him surrender but all attempts were ignored. Once the tactical teams were in a safe position, Lt. Robert Shimonovich deployed pepper spray rounds through the third-floor bedroom window. A short time later, Mr. Williams emerged from his room, unarmed, and placed under arrest without incident. 

After he was taken into custody, Officers located an approximately 12″ smooth edge knife that was used to strike Officers Rusk and McAvoy, as well as they firearm he possessed on the staircase. Upon further inspection of the weapon, it was determined to be a realistic looking pellet gun. 

As a result, Stanley Williams was charged with Possession of a Firearm, Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer, and the Attempted Murder of two Police Officers. He was subsequently transported to the Ocean County Jail. 

The Lakewood Police Department would like to thank the Lakewood Emergency Medical Services, the staff at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, the Ocean County Prosecutors Office, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and the members of Chaverim who volunteered their time last evening. 


Previous MidJersey.News story here: Lakewood Barricaded Man That Reportedly Attacked And Injured 2 Police Officers In Custody


By Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

Lakewood Barricaded Man That Reportedly Attacked And Injured 2 Police Officers In Custody

UPDATE: Barricaded Man Charged With Attempted Murder On 2 Police Officers And Other Offences In 8 Hour Lakewood Standoff Last Night

April 18, 2021

By Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Early last night Lakewood Police Department responded to a mentally unstable man acting unstable. When police officers arrived the suspect allegedly attacked two police officers with a large machete type or similar knife. Two police officers were reportedly injured by the man before he barricaded himself in his apartment.

Several area SWAT teams assembled and arrived on scene. The man held a stand-off for 9 hours when police SWAT teams used pepper balls or other type chemical to help remove the disturbed barricaded man. The suspect was removed and placed in custody.

The two police officers that were cut and were transported to the hospital required stiches for their injures., The injured officers are reported to be in stable condition according to sources.

This is a breaking news report from on scene and witness reports. When we receive official information from the OCPO or Lakewood Police the story will be updated and any corrections made.


Spring Biggest Sale BudgetPetCare 4

Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


BREAKING: Investigation reveals Lakewood wildfire was intentionally set, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office says

March 19, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

LAKEWOOD (OCEAN)– Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that an investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Squad-Arson Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, has determined that the wildland fire which occurred in Lakewood Township and advanced into Brick Township on Sunday, March 14, 2021, was intentionally set.

“We have located the origin of the fire and have concluded that the fire was intentionally set,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

On Sunday, March 14, 2021, at approximately 1:15 p.m., the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Observation Tower in Lakewood reported a wildland fire in the area of Cedarbridge Avenue and Airport Road in Lakewood. As the fire quickly spread, firefighters battled through the night – in the face of 20 mile-per-hour winds – in an effort to contain the blaze. During the course of the fire, a firefighter from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service suffered cardiac arrest. He was transported to Hackensack Meridian Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township where he is reported to be in stable condition. Approximately 167 acres of land were destroyed by the fire, and it was finally deemed under control on Monday, March 15, 2021, by approximately 1:00 p.m.

“The significance of this wildland fire cannot be overstated. We have a firefighter that suffered cardiac arrest while battling this fire. Three homeless people living in the woods were saved from the advancing fire. Numerous residences and commercial properties were damaged and hundreds of people were evacuated. It is only by the grace of God that no one was killed,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “This remains an active and ongoing investigation, and anyone with knowledge of information concerning this fire is urged to contact Sergeant Thomas Haskell of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3953,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Prosecutor Billhimer expresses his gratitude to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their thorough and collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation. Prosecutor Billhimer also commends the following agencies for their bravery and collective support in fighting and controlling this horrific fire: Ocean County Sheriff’s Office; New Jersey Forest Fire Service; New Jersey State Police; New Jersey State Police Traffic Incident Management Team; Ocean County Fire Coordinators; Ocean County EMS Coordinators; Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office; Lakewood Township Police Department; Brick Township Police Department; Toms River Township Police Department; Jackson Township Police Department; Howell Township Police Department; Chaverim of Lakewood; Hatzolah; Brick Township Bureau of Fire Safety; Brick Township EMS; Lakewood Township Fire Department; Lakewood Township EMS; Barnegat Township Fire Department; Beachwood Fire Department; Bayville Fire Department (Berkeley); Manitou Park Fire Department (Berkeley); Pinewald Pioneer Fire Department (Berkeley); Laurelton Fire Department (Brick); Breton Woods Fire Department (Brick); Pioneer Hose Fire Department (Brick); Herbertsville Fire Department (Brick); Toms River Fire Department Company No.1; Toms River Fire Department Company No. 2; Ocean Beach Fire Department (Toms River); East Dover Fire Department (Toms River); Silverton Fire Department (Toms River); Pleasant Plains Fire Department (Toms River); Manchester Township Fire Department; Whiting Fire Department (Manchester); Ridgeway Fire Department (Manchester); Mantoloking Fire Department; Waretown Fire Department; Ocean Gate Fire Department; Pine Beach Fire Department; Point Pleasant Borough Fire Department; Point Pleasant Beach Fire Department; Seaside Heights Fire Department; Seaside Park Fire Department; Island Heights Fire Department; Jackson Township Fire Department Company No.1; Jackson Mills Fire Department (Jackson); Cassville Fire Department (Jackson); Whitesville Fire Department (Jackson); Forked River Fire Department (Lacey); Lanoka Harbor Fire Department (Lacey); Lakehurst Fire Department; Joint Base McGuire-Dix Fire Department; Lavallette Fire Department; Eatontown Fire Department; Wanamassa Fire Department (Ocean – Monmouth County); Oakhurst Fire Department (Ocean – Monmouth County); West Long Branch Fire Department; Hamilton Fire Department (Neptune); Shark River Hills Fire Department (Neptune); Neptune City Fire Department; Colts Neck Fire Department; Southard Fire Department (Howell); and Goodwill Hose Fire Department (Belmar).





Lakewood Man Charged With Murder

February 25, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced that on February 25, 2021, Jahvontae Debose, 24, of Lakewood, was charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) relative to the shooting death of Dajour Randolph during the evening hours of February 21, 2021.  

On February 21, 2021, at approximately 7:40 p.m., Lakewood Township Police were summoned to the area of Tudor Court in response to a 911 call regarding a male who had collapsed in the middle of the road.  Responding Officers found Dajour Randolph, 20, of Little Egg Harbor, with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest.  Mr. Randolph was transported to Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, in Lakewood, where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.  On February 22, 2021, the Ocean County Medical Examiner performed a post-mortem examination of Mr. Randolph’s body.  The Medical Examiner determined the cause of Mr. Randolph’s death to be multiple gunshot wounds, and ruled the manner of death to be homicide.

Debose was charged on February 23, 2021 with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1); Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(11); Possession of more than Fifty Grams of Marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(3); Possession of a Firearm in the Course of Committing a Drug Offense in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1a; Being a Certain Person not to Possess a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b(1); and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C: 39-4a(1).  Debose was taken into custody without incident by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force in Pleasantville, New Jersey, following a motor vehicle stop on February 23, 2021.  He was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he remains lodged pending a detention hearing.

A thorough and extensive investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit between February 21, 2021 and February 25, 2021 revealed that Debose was, in fact, the individual responsible for Mr. Randolph’s death.  Dubose was served today in the Ocean County Jail with the complaint charging him with Mr. Randolph’s murder.

Anyone in possession of additional information concerning this investigation is urged to contact Detective Brant Uricks of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, or Detective Eric Cicerello of the Lakewood Township Police Department at 732-363-0200.

“Law enforcement officers at the local, county, state, and federal levels demonstrated outstanding teamwork in connection with this very deliberative and comprehensive investigation.  I am extremely grateful for their hard work and perseverance in expeditiously solving this horrendous and senseless crime,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Meyer commend the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit, New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center, Brick Township Police Department, Manchester Township Police Department, Toms River Township Police Department, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Pleasantville Police Department, and the United States Marshals Service, for their collective and collaborative efforts relative to this investigation, ultimately leading to Debose’ arrest and appropriate charges.

The press and the public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Little Egg Harbor man killed in Lakewood shooting

February 22, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP (OCEAN)– Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced that on February 21, 2021, at approximately 7:40 p.m., Lakewood Township Police were summoned to the area of Tudor Court in response to a 911 call regarding a male who had collapsed in the middle of the road. Responding Officers found Dajour Randolph, 20, of Little Egg Harbor, with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest. Mr. Randolph was transported to Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, in Lakewood, where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Meyer wish to emphasize that this is an active and ongoing investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and that there is no known danger to the public at this time. 

Anyone in possession of information concerning this investigation is urged to contact Detective Brant Uricks of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, or Detective Eric Cicerello of the Lakewood Township Police Department at 732-363-0200.



Lakewood Man Sentenced To Prison For Leaving The Scene Of A Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident

February 22, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 22, 2021, Mashon Wilson, 30, of Lakewood, was sentenced by the Honorable Steven F. Nemeth, J.S.C., to six years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Knowingly Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, relative to a motor vehicle crash that occurred on November 25, 2018 in Lakewood. Judge Nemeth likewise sentenced Wilson to forty-five days in the Ocean County Jail with credit for time served, and suspended his driving privileges for a period of six months, regarding his guilty plea to Driving While Suspended in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, also in connection with the November 28, 2018 motor vehicle crash.  Additionally, Wilson was sentenced to four years NJSP by Judge Nemeth as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to an unrelated charge of Burglary in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2.  The sentences will run concurrently. Wilson pled guilty to all charges on January 8, 2021 before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C.

On November 25, 2018, at approximately 7:00 a.m., Lakewood Police responded to the area of West County Line Road and Cedar Road to investigate a two vehicle accident involving a fatality.  Upon arrival, they found that a 2019 Chevrolet Suburban had crashed into a tree; the driver was critically injured, and the passenger was pronounced dead on the scene.  Further investigation determined that the other vehicle involved in the accident, a 2018 Nissan Sentra, had fled the scene.  Police traced the car to a residence in Lakewood.  At the residence, they located Wilson and two other individuals — Shayna Lee (49) and Iyanna Hall (30) — both of Lakewood.  Lee and Hall told police that Lee was the driver of the Nissan in question, and had left the scene of the accident.  Subsequent investigation revealed that Wilson was, in fact, the driver of the vehicle, and that Lee and Hall had given false statements to the police.  Lee and Hall were both charged with Hindering the Apprehension of Another by Giving a False Statement to a Police Officer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3a(7).  Those charges remain pending.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Schron who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, ultimately resulting in Wilson’s state prison sentence.