Knives, stun guns, and [alleged] drunks

Guttenberg police have busy holiday season

The holiday season is a time of festivity and celebration… and of crime.
The Guttenberg police had a flurry of activity in the weeks around Thanksgiving, with several violent incidents and an increase in DWI arrests.

Butcher knives

The season began with three arrests on Nov. 19 following an altercation between two men with knives and another wielding a wooden post. Police received several calls from residents about a disturbance around 71st Street and Hudson Avenue. Two officers responded and discovered a pair of men with “large butcher knives” pursuing another man who was “swinging what appeared to be a wooden fence board” at them, according to the police report.
“The officers took a tactical position and ordered all the males down on the ground at gunpoint and ordered them to throw their weapons a safe distance away,” said Lt. Juan Barrera of the Guttenberg PD. The males complied and were taken into custody.
A female on the scene stated that she was involved in the situation and was also taken to headquarters to make a statement.
According to her statement, the female, a resident of Guttenberg, was outside speaking with two men, both friends from the neighborhood, when they were approached by her ex-boyfriend, Jose A. Rodriguez-Hernand, 24, of Hoboken.
Rodriguez-Hernand allegedly struck one of the other men in the face, “causing him to fall to the ground, and then proceeded to kick him several times,” the report read. The third man intervened and a fight broke out.
After the fight subsided, the two Guttenberg men were leaving the scene when they saw Rodriguez-Hernand allegedly “throw [the woman] against the wall and begin choking her.” That’s when the men allegedly went into an apartment and retrieved the two knives and began chasing him.

“He didn’t want to listen. He just kept coming at her, at Officer Barker.” –Lt. Juan Barrera
The Hoboken man, Rodriguez-Hernand, was charged with simple assault, aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. His bail was set at $60,000.
The two Guttenberg men were each charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, with bail set at $20,000.
Although they were apparently defending the woman, “They shouldn’t be running after anybody with knives,” explained Barrera. “If there was a threat there, call the police. But once you chase somebody, now you’re actually trying to cause harm.”

Eluding police and resisting arrest

Investigator Shaundell Barker was on patrol on 70th Street at a little past 2 a.m. on Nov. 23 when a 2015 white BMW took a turn at high speed, veering into oncoming traffic, according to the police report. When the vehicle shot past her, “spinning out his tires enough to cause large amounts of smoke to emit from both the tires and exhaust,” she took up pursuit with her overhead lights flashing.
The BMW driver not only allegedly failed to stop, but “in an attempt to elude police he continued to accelerate his vehicle and went into the oncoming lane of traffic,” narrowly missing a collision with oncoming vehicles.
Barker caught up to the BMW near Kennedy Boulevard, where it was parked next to a fire hydrant. When the driver, Luis O. Nadal-Trinidad, 29, of Jersey City got out of the vehicle, she ordered him to sit back in the driver’s seat. He repeatedly refused, first approaching her, and then walking away.
“There are some people who are just defiant to police. That’s what it appears that this guy was,” said Barrera. “He didn’t want to listen. He just kept coming at her, at Officer Barker, and then he just walked away. And then they had to actually use some minimal force to subdue him because he didn’t want to be subdued.”
Responding to a call for backup was Officer Francesco DeLucia. After Nadal-Trinidad continually refused to comply with instructions and acted “in an aggressive manner,” he was wrestled to the ground, handcuffed, and taken into custody.
But the incident wasn’t over. Some hours later, police headquarters received a call from the towing company in Jersey City stating that one of their workers “observed a possible weapon in the front seat of the towed vehicle.”
Because the item was in plain view on the passenger seat, police were permitted to remove it from the vehicle without a warrant. The item turned out to be a flashlight stun gun with “a grip that was similar to a handgun.”
Stun guns are illegal in the State of New Jersey.
Pieces of a “green leafy vegetation” were also found on the driver’s seat and a K9 unit from the New Jersey State Police was brought in to do a perimeter search, which turned up negative.
The arrest report said that Nadal-Trinidad had had several charges for resisting arrest and violations for operations of a motor vehicle in the past. For the Nov. 23 incident he was charged with eluding police, resisting arrest, careless driving, reckless driving, and vehicle parked at a fire hydrant. Further charges for the stun gun were possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of a weapon. His bail was set at $15,000.

Driving while intoxicated

In addition to three regular patrol officers, Guttenberg police bolstered their traffic patrol by four extra officers on Thanksgiving evening, traditionally one of the biggest nights of the year for drinking. One 36-year-old male from Haledon was arrested at 2:36 a.m. on Nov. 26. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and careless driving.
Almost exactly 24 hours later, at 2:44 a.m. on Nov. 27, a 38-year-old female from Bayonne was arrested on Kennedy Boulevard and charged with driving while intoxicated. She was also charge with hindering, after giving a false name to police.
The next morning at 5 a.m. a 2005 white Ford Acura was spotted “traveling southbound on Boulevard East at a high rate of speed in a reckless manner,” according to Barrera. The vehicle sped away from police and ran at least one red light before racing into a driveway on 77th Street in North Bergen. From there the driver allegedly attempted to run away on foot before being stopped by police. The arrest report states that he appeared to be highly intoxicated and could not seem to keep his balance, and that he insisted he did nothing wrong, saying “he did not notice that the officers were trying to pull him over” and was only trying to get home to sleep. The driver, a 24-year-old male from North Bergen, was charged with eluding police, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, driving while suspended, maintenance of lamps, failure to inspect, and failure to stop for an emergency vehicle.
On Nov. 30 at 2:56 a.m. a 36-year-old male from Kent, Washington was arrested at 68th Street and Kennedy Boulevard. “The officers on patrol saw that this car had a plastic cover over the plate so you couldn’t really see the plate, and then the vehicle veered over the yellow painted line,” said Barrera. When they stopped the vehicle they detected a strong odor of alcohol on the driver’s breath. He was charged with failure to maintain lane, unclear plates, driving while intoxicated, failure to exhibit insurance card, and careless driving.

Art Schwartz may be reached at

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