NEWARK — A stolen church van being pursued by police slammed into a NJ Transit bus early Friday and ending a night of crime, according to Newark police.

The bus was headed from Maplewood to Newark Penn Station with 9 passengers on board when it was hit at 2 a.m. on Springfield Avenue at 17th Street in Newark, according to NJ Transit spokesman Nathan Rudy.

Both the bus and van wound up in the front yard of the United House of Prayer for All church and were removed from the area by 5:15 a.m., ABC 7 Eyewitness News reported.

Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said two suspects were apprehended by Newark Police and a weapon found after robbing three victims using three different vehicles last night and this morning.

Earlier in the night, an individual was robbed at gunpoint in the 200 block of Eastern Parkway by two masked suspects who were driving a white Ford van with Massachusetts plates at 11:35 p.m. Five minutes later, another person was robbed at gunpoint by two masked suspects driving a white U-Haul van at Poe Avenue near South Orange Ave, according to Ambrose.

At 1:16 a.m. police responded to a report of a robbery in the 200 block of Park Avenue. Two suspects fitting the same description as in previous robberies, in a white church van, approached a man and demanded his cash.

Maplewood police officers saw the same white van and pursued the vehicle into Newark.

During the pursuit, a Maplewood police vehicle was involved in a motor vehicle accident with a civilian vehicle near the intersection of Colgate and Broom.

Members of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department continued the pursuit. The suspect van struck a New Jersey Transit bus near Springfield Avenue and S. 17th St.

Nine passengers and a driver were on the bus and transported to an area hospital. No Serious injuries were reported.

The two suspects were apprehended by Newark Police. A weapon was recovered. Updates will be reported.

Video from the scene showed "Bethlehem Judah Christian Fellowship Church in Elizabeth" written on the side of the van.

Springfield Avenue was closed for an ongoing police investigation.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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