by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - On Saturday, Feb. 24, West Caldwell Police and police from the surrounding West Essex community responded immediately to James Caldwell High School on reports of an individual possibly at the school with a gun.
What follows is a timeline of events which eventually led to the arrest of former student Michael Schmitt, 18, of West Caldwell.
Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018
West Caldwell Police Chief Gerard Paris then released the following statement:
West Caldwell Police was notified
On Sunday, afternoon, Paris then stated the following information about Saturday's incident:
The following notice was then sent out to parents from the school administration:
Dear JCHS Students and Parents/Guardians,
I know many of you have been waiting for additional details regarding yesterday's lockdown and tomorrow's school procedures. I have been in close contact with the West Caldwell Police and here is some of the information that I now have permission to share with you.
After the Parkland shooting, Detective Mazzeo and I decided to meet with every student to review our security procedures and answer questions. We planned to meet tomorrow to develop a schedule because I wanted these meeting to be with relatively small groups to make sure all students are heard. We still plan to have these security meetings, but if any student would like to speak with either of us sooner, please see me or send an email.
I know that despite the assurances of the West Caldwell Police, some students are still nervous about coming to school tomorrow, I hope this additional information makes most of you feel more comfortable and secure. Certainly, the police presence tomorrow will make it one of the safest days to come to school.
As I mentioned in my email on Saturday, I regret that our students had to experience this lockdown, but I am proud of the actions of our students, faculty, administrators, and the West Caldwell Police.
Please contact me with any questions.
James Caldwell High School
While the investigation continues, West Caldwell Police are asking anyone who has information about this matter to contact them at:
by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
WEST CALDWELL - Newark Police Office Manny Marques, 36, of West Caldwell, has been charged with first degree aggravated sexual assault and third degree child endangerment. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office arrested Marques on Saturday after he reportedly assaulted a female, age 4, while off duty.
Marques has worked for the Newark PD for 14 years and has been suspended without pay. He is being held at the Essex County Jail in lieu of $225,000 bail, with no 10 percent option.
by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
WEST ESSEX, NJ - After a string of recent incidents, area police are reminding residents to lock their cars, and remove all valuable items from vehicles left unattended.
Wednesday / Thursday - Nov. 4/5
Friday / Saturday - Oct. 30/31
Sunday / Monday - Oct. 25/26
Thursday / Friday - Oct 22/23
Shanita Stubbs, 26, of East Orange, Arrested for Murder of TJ Maxx Worker Crystal Williams, 33, of Montclair
ESSEX COUNTY, NJ - Friday afternoon, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced that that the body of Crystal Williams, 33, of Montclair - who was reported missing on July 10 after she left to take the bus to her job at TJ Maxx in West Caldwell - was found badly decomposed on July 25, and that Shanita Stubbs, 26, of East Orange was arrested yesterday in Sacramento, California for her murder.
The final cause and manner of death are still under investigation, but according to Murray the preliminary results reveal that Williams died from blunt force trauma and possible suffocation.
Stubbs was charged with Williams’ murder Friday, Aug. 14 and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Yesterday, she was taken without incident into custody by the FBI Fugitive Task Force. Officials in California are preparing to have her extradited to New Jersey.
John Hannon, 55, of Toms River, Killed in Saturday Morning Plane Crash Behind Kiddie Academy, Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell
UPDATE: 1:30pm Tuesday
The Medical Examiner's office has confirmed the pilot's identity as John Hannon, 55, of Toms River.
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - Saturday morning, at 9:59am, the West Caldwell Police and Fairfield Police were alerted to a plane crash in the wooded area behind Kiddie Academy, located at 810 Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell. Immediately after, West Caldwell Fire Department and the Fairfield Fire Department were dispatched to the scene for a working fire in progress. By 10:03am the West Essex First Aid Squad was dispatched to the crash site as well.
"Officers discovered a single engine Cessna 206
Peter Knudson, spokesman from the National Transportion Safety Board in Washington DC, confirmed with West Essex Now that the plane was a Cessna T206H. Knudson said that there was one person on board, the pilot, and he was killed in the accident. According to Knudson, the plane crashed after takeoff from the Essex County Airport into the rear of Kiddie Academy which is about 1/2 mile away. An investigator from the NTSB arrived in town Saturday afternoon, and the investigation continued with local law authorities early Sunday morning. Knudson also confirmed that fire from the plane itself caused a brush fire to the surrounding area.
West Caldwell Fire Chief Jim Alvine explained to WEN that he saw the plane having problems, called the police, and then sent out a call for mutual aid from Fairfield, Caldwell, Verona and the West Essex First Aid Squad.
"I witnessed the plane coming down and crashing," Alvine commented.
Fairfield Deputy Fire Chief Tim Connolly was the first to reach the burning airplane.
"I was the first one to reach the wreckage," Connolly commented.
Because the plane crashed into the woods, the fire departments were extinguishing both the plane fuel fire and the surrounding area brush fire as well using "Purple K Fire Extiguishers."
Kiddie Academy does offer a summer program for infants to children up to age 12; because the incident occurred on Saturday, the school was closed.
The Caldwell Fire Department provided mutual aid with one engine, and one truck at 10:08am. North Caldwell Police responded to Passaic Avenue for traffic control and North Caldwell Fire Department responded, as well, with one engine. The Verona Fire Department and the Essex County Sheriff's Department also offered mutual aid.
At 10:38am, the Roseland Fire Department and soon after the Essex Fells Fire Department each responded with one engine to the West Caldwell firehouse for coverage.
Because this is an aviation incident, the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board are handling the investigation.
According to Paris, it is believed Hannon experienced a mechanical malfunction with the airplane during take-off. The debris has been removed from the crash site.
Updated - Monday 3:30pm
CALDWELL / WEST CALDWELL, NJ - On Monday morning, reports came into the
Caldwell Police and West Caldwell Police of cars having been stolen overnight. In total, three cars were reported to have been taken from Crane Avenue and Brookside Avenues and the residents were not aware of the timeframe; the distance between the two roads is about a five minute car ride.
Capt. Gerard Paris of West Caldwell Police confirmed that a Crane Avenue resident went out at about 7am to find that two of their vehicles had been stolen from their driveway:
Caldwell Police, however, upon closing the investigation determined that the Brookside Avenue car was NOT stolen.
Officers from Essex Fells Police, Fairfield and North Caldwell Police stated that no cars were reported stolen in their districts.
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - At about 11:35am Sunday morning, a red sedan drove into the Brion home located on Stonybrook at the corner of Central Avenue, West Caldwell. Both West Caldwell Police and West Caldwell Fire reported to the scene immediately. Joe Brion, his wife and son were home in the house when the accident occurred; neither the driver nor the residents were harmed in any way.
Central and Stonybrook was closed during the police investigation. Additionally, the house's structure was damaged and the residents are awaiting the report from a building inspector. PSEG was also called to the area to investigate the smell of natural gas which followed the accident. No police information is available at this time.
"I wasn't home," said Ari Brion, "but my dad told me that
"Everyone is good, the car only damaged the house," Ari continued.
"I live on Washington, the first house in from Central,"
West Caldwell Police Cpl. Bill Styskal Retired Thursday, and is Honored by a Final "Walk-Out" from his Fellow Officers, Friends and Family
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - Thursday evening, at 7pm, West Caldwell Police Corporal William Styskal completed his final day as a police officer as he retired from a career which began twenty-five years ago. As he stepped out the side entrance of the station, there to wish him well were his fellow law enforcement officers along with some of his closest friends and family. The ritual, called a "walkout," is often performed in honor of a police officer retiring after many years of dedication and service.
Verona Police Captain Peter Wojtal played a solo piece on the bagpipes as Styskal walked out the employees-only door into the parking lot and through a sea of well-wishers. Styskal went from person to person saying his goodbyes and as he did each of them wished him well. When he had greeted everyone, Styskal was then honored by some words from Chief of Police Michael J. Bramhall who expressed his appreciation for Styskal's service and dedication, as well as for his infectious laughter and positive spirit.
"I have had the pleasure of knowing Corporal Styskal for 25 years,
Styskal was born in Oyster Bay, NY; his great-grandfather William Loeffler, Sr. and great-great-grandfather William Loeffler, Jr. were both New York Police Department patrolmen of the now defunct 143rd and 89th Police Precincts. Styskal was raised on heroic stories of both men and he always reflected on their service with respect and admiration as he spent his early years growing up in Montclair.
Days after graduating from high school, Styskal was hired as a Special Officer, having full police responsibilities, with the Montclair Police Department, on June 1, 1982.
In 1990, the Essex Fells Police Department took Styskal on first as a Dispatcher and the following year, as an Officer and EMT. By 1996 he was made an Investigator and in 2000, Styskal became the department's first ever promoted Detective.
"While I was with Essex Fells, I delivered two babies," Styskal explained.
In June, 2005, Styskal went on to work with, and then finally served the remainder of his career with, the West Caldwell Police where he began on patrol. In two years, he completed his Emergency Medical Technician certification and was assigned to the department's Emergency Service Unit. Styskal was ultimately promoted to the rank of Corporal in October, 2011.
Styskal served on the West Essex Policeman's Benevolent Association Local 81 executive board for 12 years, including one time as President, and he chaired many of the committee's including the scholarship and golf committee.
"My passion is on the streets," said Styskal.
After the 9/11 attacks, Styskal was assigned to Essex County's Elite Unit and he continued to be part of the Essex County Rapid Deployment Team until his retirement. He also served with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Newark Office on the Fugitive Task Force which is responsible for apprehending some of the country's most dangerous fugitives. In 2006, Styskal also worked undercover with the Essex County Bureau of Narcotics and while there, he took into custody numerous criminals, seized several weapons and located thousands of dollars of drug money.
"It's every officers goal to get to where I am today
Throughout his career, Styskal continued his education with numerous police-related courses and along the way he also earned awards commendations including:
"Police work for me has never been a job, it has always been my passion.
Bill and Susan Styskal with their children Billy (pink), Christian (grey), Emily and Joey (red)
All of Bill's family were present at the walkout: His wife, Sue, who is a retired Lieutenant and was the first female officer, from the Roseland Police Department, and their children Billy, 15, Christian, 13, Emily, 10, and Joey, 9. West Caldwell had only put together only one other walkout so Styskal had no idea that it was going to happen.
"I was totally taken by surprise!," he commented.
Styskal is well known and cherished by many in West Essex for his generous and uplifting spirit and his continuous effort to put the community first.
Bill is loved and respected for who he is:
Always a familiar face at local gatherings, Styskal has often been on hand as well during emergencies and challenging events. Hurricane Sandy brought out all of the first responders around West Essex, and Styskal was no exception; for weeks he worked around the clock clearing trees and debris from home and roadways, while putting his own property last on the list. While West Caldwell became his central focus, there's not a portion of West Essex which didn't benefit from Styskal's service, time, and talents.
"Words cannot express how happy and proud I am for Billy;
Styskal expressed that he's always felt a duty to attend, when possible, the memorials for law enforcement officers who have died on duty so that he could pay his final respects. The first he attended was for Patrolman Daniel J. Smith of the Essex County Police Department, who died Sept. 17, 1984. Smith had been shot in the head
and killed as he approached a stolen car in East Orange.
"My first funeral was for Danny Smith," Styskal explained.
North Caldwell Police Chief Mark Deuer has spent countless hours working with Styskal for various incidents all over West Essex.
"It has been an honor to work next to Officer Styskal for so many years.
Officer Matthew DeAngelo of the Caldwell Police department recounted the happy times he and Styskal had spent together.
"Bill and I always had a lot of good times together
Styskal had a very good working relationship with the West Caldwell governing body. Councilman Stephen Wolsky called him the "ultimate professional."
"Bill Styskal was a fine addition to the West Caldwell Police," Wolsky expressed.
Gerard Giannetti, of Roseland, concurred:
The last funeral Styskal will have attended in uniform was for Detective Liu of the NYPD's 84th precinct, who was killed while on duty in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. Styskal and his co-workers had earlier participated in a fundraiser selling t-shirts as a benefit for Liu's family members.
"I made it a point to make sure that our new officers were at Detective Liu's funeral to experience what I experienced at my first funeral," said Styskal.
As much as he relished all the time being in uniform, Styskal has always enjoyed being with his family as much as possible. They often take trips up to New England together and when he's home, Styskal is usually involved with a time-consuming scouting project as a Scoutmaster for Caldwell's Troop 3.
"I love this job and I'm going to miss it," Styskal commented,
Thirty minutes before leaving the West Caldwell Police Station, Styskal expressed that he was overwhelmed with the support of good wishes he had received from the community, and at peace with his decision to retire.
"I feel blessed that I had the privlege of serving the citizens of West Caldwell.
CALDWELL, NJ - After serving 26 and a half years with the West Caldwell Police Department, Chief of Police Michael J. Bramhall announced on Tuesday that he will be retiring from his position as of July 1. The township's Governing Body will follow a process set by local ordinance to appoint his replacement.
At the age of 21, Bramhall entered the West Caldwell force on December 17, 1988, direct from completing his Criminal Justice Associate’s Degree from the County College of Morris. After 21 years, he was made Police Chief, sworn in by Mayor Joseph Tempesta, Jr., on Nov. 24, 2009. He will be 47 upon his retirement.
Bramhall expressed that he had been thinking about retiring for the past few months.
"Once I hit 25 years in December, 2013,
For the past 10 months, Bramhall has also been serving as the township's Assistant Administrator; once he retires, he will no longer serve in that capacity. As far as the chief's retirement benefits, pension and accumulated vacation and sick time, the township has not yet prepared that information.
"As a community we have been fortunate to have Chief Bramhall
It appears that the future is wide-open for Chief Bramhall. He reported that he plans on staying in the West Essex area and is looking forward to taking a few months off after retirement to relax.
UPDATED: Monday, 8:50am
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - West Caldwell Police Chief Michael J. Bramhall released further information on Friday evening's incident at Shop Rite, located at 540 Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell.
According to the Chief, at about 7:30pm Friday evening, officers were called to the scene of the grocery store where a vehicle had crashed through the front window. The arriving officers found a 2002 Red Cadillac which was determined to have been driven in reverse, near the front doors of the business.
Neither the driver, Ilona Rohonyi, 82, from West Caldwell, nor anyone else at the scene reported any injuries.
Both the West Essex First Squad and the West Caldwell Fire Department reported to the scene to assist. Eventually, the vehicle was removed and the building was determined to be structurally safe; ShopRite was open the next morning on schedule.
"The investigation revealed that the driver, while backing out of a parking space, mistakenly pressed on the gas instead of the brake
"No employees or customers were injured,"
West Caldwell Officer Steven Huster conducted the investigation; Rohonyi was said to have been visibly shaken up but reportedly was not exhibiting any visible signs of injury. She was issued a summons for careless driving and her information was submitted to NJ DMV for driver re-testing.