Armed robbery and possible kidnapping at NJ mall, cops say
🔵 Police are investigating two incidents near an East Brunswick mall
🔵 Three juveniles were robbed at gunpoint and there was a report of a kidnapping
🔵 There was a carnival at the mall that same night
EAST BRUNSWICK — Police are investigating two separate reports of an armed robbery and a possible kidnapping at a Middlesex County mall.
Officers responded to the Brunswick Square Mall Saturday night when they got a call from a nearby hotel. The caller reported that people were seen running from the sound of gunfire near the Habit Burger, which is located just off the highway.
While there were no apparent injured victims, investigators later found a spent shell casing in the parking lot near the burger joint. And while officers were at the scene, a woman went up to them to report an armed robbery.
According to police, the woman told them that a 15-year-old Black male wearing a ski mask approached three other juveniles with a handgun on the opposite side of Route 18 near Cindy Way. He demanded their sneakers and, with shoes in hand, ran from the area.
Separately, police also said someone called to report a kidnapping at the mall parking lot. The caller said a female victim was yelling from inside a black pickup truck that she was being kidnapped.
When officers checked the area, they couldn't find the vehicle or the victim. There were also no other witnesses or a report of a missing person.
🔵 Connected to the LEAD Fest carnival?
The Law Enforcement Against Drugs, or LEAD, Fest carnival at Brunswick Square Mall along Route 18 opened with rides and vendors Friday evening. It runs through Monday, May 29. East Brunswick police in a statement said the incidents were "in and around" the carnival.
Nick DeMauro, LEAD Executive Director, told New Jersey 101.5 that he spoke with East Brunswick police Chief Frank LoSacco and clarified the reported incidents were not connected to the carnival. He noted the Habit Burger was located on the other side of the mall parking lot and there were no issues within the carnival space.
DeMauro also said the carnival has taken security measures including metal detectors to keep attendees safe. With a focus on being a family event, the festival has also implemented a policy barring unsupervised juveniles under the age of 18 unless they buy a pass online in advance.