By Desirée Taylor
Business continues — but not quite as usual — at the mall where 30-year-old Dustin Friedland died, shot in front of his wife, by carjackers who wanted the couple’s 2012 Range Rover. The manhunt for four suspects ended this weekend — four men arrested, all of them charged with felony murder and carjacking.
“You saw how quickly arrests made. Tremendous effort by lots of people working 24/7,” said Acting Attorney General John Hoffman.
“It was a combination of witnesses, statements, technology and putting pieces together. Not one single type of evidence, it was a number of things,” said Prosecutor Murray at a press conference Saturday.
One of the suspects, Basim Henry, made his first appearance in court today. Federal prosecutors dropped unlawful flight charges against him, clearing the way for the state’s case. Federal charges haven’t been ruled out.
“It’s possible. A lot of decisions would have to be made. It would have to be taken over by the U.S. attorney’s office. Death penalty decision made in Washington. So a lot of decisions that would have to be made to get to that point, but it is possible,” Hoffman said.
The Short Hills Mall sits near New Jersey’s ground zero for carjacking — Newark, in Essex County. Close to 70 percent of New Jersey carjackings connect to Newark.
“It’s a problem. High-end vehicles. And one of the issues is carjacking isn’t the way it was 15 or 20 years ago when someone could hot wire a car. Now with sophistication of vehicles, you need a person holding the key. Before you could have just jimmied and hot wired the door. That has created an element of violence in carjacking,” Hoffman said.
It’s violent crimes like this that Assemblyman Jon Bramnick says demand bail reform in New Jersey.
“Today a judge cannot consider whether someone will do more violence in society. That is a very simple standard that we need to employ, if you are a potential or violent threat to the community. Judges should be able to issue a non bail order,” Bramnick said.
The mall won’t disclose details. Friedland’s widow thanked police for their efforts.