PARAMUS, N.J. -- Daily Voice of Bergen this week is running down some of the top stories of 2015, leading up to the most popular on Thursday. Here is one of the stories that made us smile, made us cry or in some way left an impression on us.
Of all the imaginable horrors, few would've considered being abducted while shopping at the mall.
So when Daily Voice broke the news the morning of Sept. 16 that a robber snatched patrons from two Paramus mall parking lots in order to get money and Red Bull, shoppers were shocked.
“I find it horrifying and scary,” said Pamela Nealy of New York City as she jammed bags into her SUV outside the Garden State Plaza.
"It’s a safe neighborhood here," she said. "I don’t think it’s normally like this.”
“I always felt safe here,” said Joe Ferrera of Cliffside Park. “This is scary.”
Fazlor Chowdhury of Hawthorne concurred: “I come here once a week. I’ve never seen anything bad.”
There were also some who could easily see it happening.
“Some of these young girls who close and get out at 11 or 11:30 at night — there is no one around," said a Macy’s employee who requested anonymity. "We have to walk in groups to our cars.”
As Daily Voice reported, Paramus detectives arrested Eddie Jermain Johnson, 27, following a trio of abduction-robberies in February, August and September -- one outside Bergen Town Center and the others at GSP ( SEE: Paramus Police: Robber Abducted Mall Shoppers For Cash, Red Bull ).
Detectives Dmitriy Mazur, Michael Cebulski and Norman Gin “worked for months attempting to identify [the robber],” Deputy Police Chief Robert Guidetti told Daily Voice.
On Sept. 11, with help from Fair Lawn police, they identified Johnson from a surveillance video. They arrested him in Clifton.
"Our victims were targeted because of their kindness," Guidetti said. "They thought someone was in need and they were exploited and robbed."
Johnson has since had his original bail halved to $250,000 on kidnapping, robbery and related charges. He remained held in the Bergen County Jail.
Meanwhile, uniformed and plainclothes officers continue to patrol the malls with an eye toward various crimes.
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