Drug paraphernalia found after Park Avenue shootout

Residents surprised by gunfire in quiet neighborhood
Hoboken Reporter 2/12/06

An otherwise peaceful morning on Park Avenue was shattered with the sounds of gunfire last Sunday.
According to Hoboken Sgt. Michael Costello, a shootout took place at approximately 7:19 a.m., involving at least four guns.   Shortly afterwards, the police switchboard received several reports of shots fired on the between Ninth and 11th streets.   By the time officers arrived at the scene, neighbors - many of whom were peering out their windows - told police about a wild gunfight in the street. No one was injured, but several car windows on the block were blown out by the gunfire.   According to a police report, shells from four different guns were found and over 30 empty casings littered the street and sidewalks.

Park Avenue resident a suspect

Witnesses said that they saw one of the men in the fight rush into a building near the corner of 10th Street and Park Avenue.   Hoboken Police officers John Hermann and John Orricco canvassed the building where the suspect fled. In one of the upstairs apartments, lying on the floor, they saw the suspect's brown sweatshirt in plain view. They took all six residents of the apartment, who were all related, down to the central police station for questioning.  According to Costello, at police headquarters, 20-year-old Jason Torres, who lives with his family in the apartment, admitted to having been involved in the shootout.

Police believe that the shootout stemmed from a fight that started at the Spa Diner on Hudson Street earlier in the morning.   While he was being questioned, the Port Authority Police brought a bomb sniffing dog to try and find a gun. The dog hit on a small metal box in Torres' bedroom. While a gun was not in the box, police did find over 900 small plastic bags in the box, Costello said.   "The Baggies are consistent with those that are used for packaging drugs," Costello said.

Costello added that police believe because the bomb sniffing dog hit on that box, at some point it was used to house a gun.  Through an additional investigation, police discovered that the gun - a Colt .38 semiautomatic - was hidden outside the apartment. Police declined to say specifically where, because that information is part of their ongoing investigation.

Loaded gun

Costello said that the gun still had one live round in the chamber when it was found.   Costello said that they have solid leads on the other persons involved in the shootout and expect to have arrests made in the very near future.   "This is under investigation, and arrests will be made shortly," Costello said. 

Torres was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, and fourth-degree possession of drug paraphernalia. His bail was set at $40,000 cash, which he failed to post. He was sent to the Hudson County jail.

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