In this, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Guttenberg Police Department, officers in the tiny town have been busy.
Recently, they found themselves face to face with an allegedly drunken and agitated man who allegedly wielded a gas-powered chainsaw in a threatening manner. With guns drawn, they disarmed and arrested him.
This happened less than 24 hours after a high-speed chase through town, with a black Cadillac weaving through the streets, allegedly trying to elude the police, and ultimately flipping over and rolling several times on River Road.
Special Officer Wilson Acevedo and Special Officer Jesus Garcia were assisting on a motor vehicle stop on Adams Street at a little past midnight on Saturday, Aug. 29 when a man ran up to them saying there was a fight with weapons in progress down the street.
The officers responded quickly to the 7000 block on Adams. “In the middle of the street there was a highly intoxicated male with a gas chainsaw in his right hand yelling and screaming at a young male,” said Sgt. Juan Barrera. “He was swinging the chainsaw.”
“In the middle of the street there was a highly intoxicated male with a gas chainsaw in his right hand yelling and screaming at a young male.” –Sgt. Juan Barrera.
Quijada was arrested and brought to headquarters, where he was advised to remove all items in his pocket. “On doing so, a small glassine bag containing a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine fell out of his pocket,” said Barrera.
The powder was sent to the lab for analysis. Quijada was charged with possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, possession of cocaine, and unlawful possession of a weapon.
Bail was set $10,000 with a 10 percent cash option.
High speed pursuit
Investigator Joseph Keselica was in his vehicle on Bergenline Avenue and 70th Street at 4:21 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 28 when a taxi driver pulled up next to him and started yelling, ‘That car! That car!”
A black Cadillac CTS then shot past “at a high rate of speed going northbound,” according to Barrera. Contacting Guttenberg dispatch, Keselica pursued the vehicle, which made a right turn onto 73rd Street. “The investigator estimated the vehicle’s speed to be 80 miles per hour,” said Barrera.
For the next few minutes the car allegedly sped through town, turning up Hudson Avenue, where it ran through five stop signs, then up 77th Street back to Bergenline Avenue.
From there it raced down 79th Street to Boulevard East to Bull’s Ferry Road, where the driver made a U-turn and traveled east to River Road northbound, with Keselica still in pursuit.
At that point the police dispatcher advised Keselica to discontinue the pursuit. Moments later Keselica saw “a lot of sparks and heard a loud bang” in the distance, said Barrera. “The vehicle crashed and rolled over on River Road in Edgewater. It flipped over several times. The car was pretty bad.”
Advising the dispatcher of the situation and requesting fire, EMS, and additional police units, Keselica proceeded to the scene of the accident at River Road and Gorge Road, where the driver and passenger were able to get out of the vehicle on their own with minor injuries.
“The driver [allegedly] stated he didn’t stop because he was drinking and smoked marijuana tonight,” said Barrera. “The driver [allegedly] also had an open container of alcohol in the vehicle along with Dutch Master wraps, which are commonly used to smoke marijuana.”
Both the driver and the passenger were treated by EMS and transported to Hackensack Medical Center. The driver, Michael Pepen, 25, from North Arlington, was issued summonses for reckless driving, careless driving, DWI, and driving while suspended. He was also charged criminally with eluding police with a motor vehicle.
The passenger, a 22-year-old male from Fairview, was not charged with anything.
“The crash took down a traffic utility pole,” said Edgewater Police Chief William Skidmore. “It knocked out the signals for the intersection. They had it back up in about four hours.”
On a more positive note, the Guttenberg Police Department assisted with a back-to-school drive for residents, spearheaded by Town Administrative Assistant Marisol Montanez, with assistance from Sgt. Rafael Martinez.
“I saw it in other towns and I thought it was a great idea,” said Montanez. “So I sat down with [Public Safety Director] Mike [Caliguiro] and [Sgt.] Juan [Barrera] and they thought it was a good way to help out the community. There are a lot of kids in the town who are in need.”
Montanez solicited donations from numerous sources, including the Guttenberg PBA, Staples, Pegasus Dental Center, and the 99 cent store. Items collected included rulers, pencils, notebooks, erasers, glue sticks, folders, pens, crayons, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.
Originally scheduled to take place at the Anna L. Klein School, distribution was moved to the municipal building on Sept. 3 due to ongoing construction at the school. More than 100 book bags filled with supplies were distributed to needy residents.
Additional bags were given to the school for distribution. More will be available at the annual Safe Kids Day event to be held on Sept. 19 on Boulevard East between 68th to 71st Streets. Designed to promote safely among the town’s youth, Safe Kids Day brings together the police department, fire department, healthcare, and other services available to families. Sponsored by Mayor Gerald Drasheff and the Town Council, the yearly event includes free rides, music, food vendors, informational booths, and much more.
Art Schwartz may be reached at email@example.com.