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Crime & Safety Local News

Paterson Dad Charged With Beating 3-Month-Old Infant Unconscious At Route 46 Mall

A Paterson man was charged with beating his 3-month-old infant unconscious at a Route 46 shopping center.

Woodland Park police were called to The Plaza 46 shopping center on a report of an unresponsive infant in early January, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Acting Woodland Park Police Chief John Uzzalino said Tuesday.

The girl was rushed to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, where doctors “discovered various internal injuries,” they said in a statement.

Detectives from Valdes’s office interviewed several witnesses over three months before arresting Elie Kiame, 34, on Monday, the statement said.

They charged him with aggravated assault, child endangerment and child abuse/neglect and sent him to the Passaic County Jail.

A Central Judicial Processing in Paterson released Kiame, with conditions, on Tuesday pending the outcome of the case.

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Clifton Worker Seriously Injured In 30-Foot Fall

The 49-year-old laborer was working on repairs on a rusted steel roof at Newman’s Fish Foods when he fell onto the concrete floor below shortly after 9 a.m., Detective Capt. Darrin DeWitt said.

He was unconscious but breathing when an ambulance took him to Hackensack University Medical Center, DeWitt said.

City police and firefighters responded along with HUMC paramedics, the captain said.

OSHA will be investigating, he said.

Founded in 1952, Newman’s serves retail pet stores, garden centers, and aquariums with freshwater and marine fish, reptiles, small animals and other live food.

It was the site of by a smoky fire this past Oct. 11.

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Crime & Safety Local News

Paterson Squatter Admits Torching Multi-Family Home In Purported Suicide Try

Ertugrul Abaci, 58, bled heavily as he staggered across Sussex Street on June 9, 2019, authorities said at the time.

He’d just ignited a fire in and outside the attic apartment where he’d lived nearly 23 years – and hadn’t paid rent on for the past five, they said.

The German-born Abaci, who became a U.S. citizen after emigrating in the early 1990s, used a bottle of vodka as an accelerant after taking a few swigs from it, investigators said.

He told them he’d set fire to his belongings so that his landlords wouldn’t get them after he killed himself that night, according to documents on file in Superior Court in Paterson.

The landlords, however, told detectives that Abaci had threatened to burn down the building whenever they tried to collect the rent.

Five residents who’d been living there were displaced, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said.

Abaci, meanwhile, was treated at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.

He was then ordered held at Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital in Secaucus for more than two months for psychiatric reasons before a Superior Court judge in Paterson ordered that Abaci remain jailed until the charges were resolved.

Authorities originally charged Abaci with two counts of aggravated arson and one of creating a risk of widespread injury.

Rather than face trial, he accepted a deal from Senior Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor Julie Serfess, pleading guilty Friday to a single aggravated arson count in exchange for leniency.

Superior Court Judge Joseph Portelli set sentencing for May 7.

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Crime & Safety Local News

Angry Woman Set Huge Paterson Fire That Displaced 60 By Lighting Paper Towels, Indictment Says

Authorities didn’t suggest a possible motive when they announced that detectives had arrested Yanit Valdez, 38, of Manhattan 10 days after the massive Aug. 3 fire on Cianci Street.

However, an indictment returned by a grand jury in Paterson this week accuses Valdez of lighting paper towels on a couch to settle an argument in an upper-floor apartment.

Flames quickly spread through the cockloft, blew through the roof and jumped from building to building. Hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze for hours.

When they finally were done, 20 families had been displaced, several firefighters were hospitalized and half a city block was destroyed, authorities said.

Authorities haven’t identified the relationship between Valdez, who has remained in the Passaic County Jail since her arrest, and the tenant she was arguing with.

A first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court in Paterson will be scheduled on the indictment, which charges Valdez with arson, aggravated assault and causing widespread injury.

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Crime & Safety Local News

Three Wounded In Paterson Street Corner Shooting

Three men were shot on a Paterson street corner Thursday night, authorities said.

Responding officers found a 28-year-old victim at 17th Avenue and East 21st Street shortly before 8 p.m.

He was taken to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Paterson Police Chief Ibrahim Baycora said in a joint release.

Within minutes, two others – one 29, the other 26 – arrived at St. Joe’s, they said.

None of the injuries were initially considered life-threatening.

Valdes and Baycora didn’t say whether police had arrested or identified any suspects in the shooting.

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Crime & Safety Local News

Authorities: Detectives Bust Driver, Accomplice In Months-Old Passaic Pedestrian Hit-Run

A 27-year-old Passaic driver sped off after his car struck and severely injured another city resident last fall, said authorities who also charged a Prospect Park woman with trying to cover up his involvement.

Matthew Cancel was behind the wheel of a 2015 Mercedes-Benz that struck the 64-year-old victim at Market and Hudson streets on Oct. 25, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Passaic Police Chief Luis Guzman said in a joint announcement.

The victim was treated at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson for serious bodily injuries, they said.

Detectives tied Cancel to the crash and charged him with leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury.

They also charged Carinell Pellot, 23, with hindering Cancel’s arrest by lying to police.

Both had first appearances scheduled Wednesday in Central Judicial Processing Court in Paterson.

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Crime & Safety Local News

20-Year-Old Paterson, Haledon Men Shot, Responding Police Sergeant’s Car Struck

Easter Sunday had just begun when two 20-year-old men were shot in Paterson and a police sergeant responding to the call had his car struck, responders said.

One of the victims, from Paterson, was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center after being struck several times by gunfire near the corner of Godwin Avenue and Summer Street just after midnight, they said.

The other, from Haledon, was taken to the hospital via private vehicle, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Paterson Police Chief Ibrahim Baycora said Sunday morning.

Neither sustained life-threatening injuries, they said.

The sergeant was out of the vehicle at the time and OK, responders noted.

Valdes and Baycora didn’t say whether whoever was believed responsible for the shooting was taken into custody or identified.

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Crime & Safety Local News

Paterson Detectives Seize 528 Heroin Folds, Half-Pound Coke, Loaded Gun From Accused Dealer, 19

A young Paterson dealer had a loaded gun along with 528 heroin folds, 25 knotted bags of the drug and nearly a half-pound of cocaine when he was arrested, authorities said.

Armed with a search warrant, city Narcotics Division detectives raided a tiny house on 30th Street off 18th Avenue and arrested resident Luis A. Sierra, 19, city Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.

They charged Sierra with various drug counts, as well as with illegally possessing a .38-caliber Taurus revolver, then sent him to the Passaic County Jail to await a first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court.

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Crime & Safety Local News

Paterson spends $61,000 to buy tree stump grinder

Municipal officials approved the purchase of a machine to grind tree stumps for $61,601, according to public records.

Woodland Park-based Northeastern Arborist Supply will deliver the stump grinder Model SG-75. The machine will be used to grind stumps after public works worker cut down trees.

Previously, public works lacked a tree stump grinder or remover. They rented a machine to remove half-dozen tree stumps that were left behind after dead trees were cut down from the Lucas Park last year.

Municipal officials approved the contract to purchase the machine on March 23.

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Crime & Safety Local News

Paterson will be ready to reopen in-person schooling on May 3, says superintendent

After being closed for more than a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Paterson school district will be fully prepared to reopen in-person learning for its nearly 30,000 students on May 3, said superintendent Eileen Shafer on Monday afternoon.

Shafer said there will be “layers of protection” to minimize the spread of the virus inside the district’s more than 50 school buildings. Students and staff will be required to wear masks and observe six feet social distancing rule. Students will receive tri-fold partitions for desks in classrooms. Windows will be kept open when classes are in session and offices are occupied. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed in every classroom, building entrance, and outside bathrooms.

Other so-called layers include:

  • Every classroom will be equipped with an Active Pure ionic air purifier for “continuous surface decontamination and air purification in real-time, using superoxide molecules and hydro-peroxides that destroy contaminants on surfaces and in the air.” The device is proven to eliminate common airborne and surface contaminants including viruses like the SAR-CoV-2 Coronavirus, swine flu and bacteria, mold, fungi, volatile organic compounds, smoke, allergens, and odors, according to the district.
  • MERV-11 air filters will be installed in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units “wherever possible.”
  • Air Scrubbers will be used in classrooms and offices that do not have windows for air circulation. They have HEPA filters.
  • Teachers will be provided disinfectant spray for personal use.

“With the several layers of protection in place, I am confident everything will be in order for our school buildings to reopen on May 3rd. Our Facilities Department and Security Department staff have been working to ensure all schools are ready to open,” said Shafer.

But the teachers’ union has raised concerns about safety inside the buildings.

John McEntee, Jr., president of the Paterson Education Association, the teachers’ union, wants the district to let his team conduct “safety inspections” in advance of re-opening the schools. He has more than 200 union delegates trained and prepared to inspect the schools to ensure they have the needed equipment and ventilation to ensure students and staff do not get sick after they return for in-person schooling.

“Windows are not opening. The buildings are a mess,” said McEntee. “Look, if the schools are ready and the school buildings are in pristine condition and they have all the things that they have advertised to ameliorate the spread of the virus, the association wouldn’t necessarily be opposed.”

McEntee said union officials were ready to begin inspections last week.

Shafer said union officials will be allowed to conduct safety inspections on April 21 and 22. But the union wants access earlier.

“If we could do walkthroughs sooner, we would. If we were ready today, we would open schools for in-person instruction and not wait until May 3rd,” said Shafer.

McEntee said conducting the inspections this late will leave little time for the district to adequately address defects uncovered during the walk throughs.

“That leaves at least ten days,” said school board president Kenneth Simmons. He said Neil Mapp, facilities director, informed him that’s plenty of time to correct issues. “It’s enough time for them to address it.”

Shafer has also launched an effort to vaccinate teachers and staff members before re-opening for in-person classes. Simmons said approximately 2,000 staff have been inoculated against Covid-19. That’s half of the district’s employees.

McEntee pointed out Shafer had initially said the district would decide whether to re-open in-person schooling in mid-April, but moved the decision date to March 31.

Simmons said the decision to re-open schools is also being driven by state exams. He said parents can still opt-in for remote learning. He said a survey that was conducted shows half of parents want their children back in school while the other half prefer remote learning.

“It’s literally split, 50-50,” said Simmons.

Simmons said he did not want to wait until September to begin the process to reopen schools for in-person learning. Governor Phil Murphy has said he does not want remote learning options in September.

“It’s kind of like a soft opening to see what works and what doesn’t work. I don’t think people are going to get used to the new norm until they actually have to begin practicing them,” said Simmons.

School board members will discuss re-opening in-person schooling on Wednesday. Simmons said a previously approved resolution gives the superintendent the authority to reopen the schools.