Audio: Short Hills Mall shooting 911 call
NEWARK — The four suspects in the deadly carjacking at the Short Hills mall last month appeared in a Newark courtroom for the first time Wednesday and listened as their attorneys entered not guilty pleas for them.
In separate, brief appearances, each of the four — Basim Henry, 32, Karif Ford, 31, Kevin Roberts, 35, and Hanif Thompson, 29 — told Essex County Superior Court Judge Peter Vazquez they understand the serious charges they are facing.
"Any questions?" Vazquez asked Ford.
"No," Ford answered.
The four face a maximum penalty of life in prison for their alleged roles in the Dec. 15 slaying of Dustin Friedland, a Hoboken lawyer gunned down in a parking lot at the Mall at Short Hills.
They will remain at the Essex County jail in lieu of bails of $2 million each.
Prosecutors say Friedland, 30, had just let his wife into the passenger side door of the 2012 Range Rover when he was confronted by his attackers.
His wife was forced out of the car before two of the assailants sped off in the stolen car, law enforcement sources have previously said.
Two others left in a Chevy Suburban they had driven to the mall.
Essex County prosecutors said they are confident they understand the role each defendant played in the killing but declined to discuss specifics Wednesday, including who they believe was the shooter.
Wednesday, The Star-Ledger obtained a recording of the lone phone call made to Millburn police as Friedland lay dying in the mall parking lot.
In the 40-second phone call, a man who identified himself as an AT&T employee tells police that a shooting had taken place outside the mall, but offered few other details, according to 911 recordings obtained by The Star-Ledger through open public records requests.
In the 911 call, the AT&T employee says he heard there was a shooting at the Mall at Short Hills, but claims not to have witnessed it.
"You got the shooting in the parking lot?" the caller asks.
"Yeah, we’re aware of it," the dispatcher responds. "What can you tell me?"
The caller was unable to provide any details about the shooting, according to the recordings.
An e-mail to the Friedland family’s spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
It remains unclear how police were first notified of the shooting.
In the recording, the 911 dispatcher tells the caller that authorities already knew about the shooting, but does not explain how.
During Wednesday’s arraignment, several family members and friends of the defendants filled several rows of the courtroom.
Afterward, just one was willing to speak with reporters. Reginald Gadsden of Newark said that while he doesn’t know whether any of his four friends took part in the attack he urged others to use caution before reaching a conclusion about guilt or innocence.
"If they’re guilty, let the jury say they’re guilty," Gadsden said.
Gadsden said he found details released about the killing "fishy," specifically the claim that the Range Rover was found abandoned behind a vacant house in Newark’s South Ward.
"Who would drop a car off in the neighborhood like that," Gadsden said. "That block is populated with a lot of houses. There are just a lot of things that seem fishy in this case."
Star-Ledger Staff Writer James Queally contributed to this report.
In : #EssexCounty
Tags: short hills mall carjacking suspects plead not guilty hours before 911 tapes are released
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