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Four Essex County Men Accused of Deadly Short Hills Mall Carjacking

Three Newark men and an Irvington resident charged in killing of Hoboken attorney.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announces the arrests in the deadly carjacking at the Short Hills mall on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (Photo: Melinda Stevens/Patch)
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announces the arrests in the deadly carjacking at the Short Hills mall on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (Photo: Melinda Stevens/Patch)
Written By Mike Pignataro and Melinda Stevens

Four Essex County men have been charged in the fatal carjacking of a Hoboken attorney at The Mall at Short Hills last weekend, authorities announced Saturday morning.

Hanif Thompson, 29, of Irvington, and Newark residents Karif Ford, 31, Basim Henry, 32, and Kevin Roberts, 33, were each charged with murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose.

Henry was arrested by the FBI Task Force at a hotel in the Easton area in Pennsylvania, while the other three were apprehended at their homes, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said at a Saturday morning press conference in Newark.

According to a manager of the Comfort Inn in Palmer Township, Pa., the FBI arrived at the hotel at about 1:15 a.m. Saturday, LehighValleyLive.com reported. The federal agents went to a room where a man and woman had been staying since Wednesday, the manager told the website.

All four of the men were arrested without incident between 9 p.m. Friday night and 3 a.m. Saturday. Bail was set at $2 million each and arraignments will be announced Sunday.

At least three of the four men have criminal records, ranging from burglary to bank robbery, according to NJ.com.

Now they each face life in prison if convicted for the killing of Dustin Friedland, 30, who was shot in the head when he and his wife returned to their SUV in a parking deck shortly after 9 p.m. last Sunday. Friedland was pronounced dead at 11:45 p.m. that night at Morristown Medical Center. His wife, Jamie, who was uninjured, was also transported to the hospital.

According to Murray, the couple's Range Rover was the target—not Friedland—in the incident. Authorities declined to comment which man allegedly pulled the trigger. The weapon has not been recovered, Murray said.

The investigation revealed the four men were all in the parking lot the night of the killing with two leaving in the stolen SUV and the other two in the vehicle they arrived in, according to Murray.

The four men were arrested through a "combination of witnesses, statements, technology, old-fashioned police work and putting the pieces together," Murray said.

Murray declined to comment whether the men were connected to a gang.

Investigators examined mall surveillance tapes and searched behind a vacant, boarded-up house on Renner Avenue in Newark where the SUV was found this week and a $41,000 reward was offered for information that led to the capture of the carjackers.

"There has been an epidemic of carjackings and so we formed a task force earlier this year combined with federal state, county and local forces and others to stop it and these arrests are a result of this effort," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.

"Whether you live in Essex County—or anywhere in New Jersey—work here, go to school here, or are just passing through, you deserve safety," Fishman said. "You shouldn’t have to worry when you get in your car that someone is going to put a gun to your head. That is why we are working so closely with all levels of law enforcement to take these violent offenders off the streets and to make it clear these crimes will not be tolerated."

Friedland, who grew up in Toms River, studied mechanical engineering at Bucknell University and graduated Syracuse Law School. Services for Friedland, an avid runner who lived in Hoboken, were held Wednesday in South Jersey.
Phil Brooks January 06, 2014 at 12:12 PM
James, "You talk about a bunch of old men and large corporations and big money "running" the country, and you may well be correct, yet you never once mention Unions and their influence on our political system. I bet you are a union member and a Democrat voter, which doesn't make you a bad guy but shows your prejudice." // You'll forgive me, but the phrasing of that came across to me as unions are evil and, if you listen to some of the Republican talking points, unions are to blame for all our ills. Lord knows that I've heard and read enough anti-union diatribe, even from supposed working stiffs, that it surprises me how many people have bought in to this. And, to be quite honest, you sounded exactly like that. // Sadly, my money goes to lots of places I don't want it to go. Yes, one of them was COPE. But, in my mind, the benefits I got from a union contract outweighed that. Sadly, at this stage of the game, it's not outweighed by much, but I'd rather have a contract and work rules to back me up against the often capricious and ignorant employers I used to work for (and this was a very large corporation) than to be working without a net. As a union man, I'll say that, if everyone could trust everyone else, we wouldn't need unions. And that would be fine by me. But, sadly, it's not the case. // And, I'm often told how to vote, usually from someone with a special interest or one of the people running for election. Doesn't mean I have to listen to them. And, with all the advertising and other BS, it's gotten so over-saturated that I just tune it out. In other words, if there was any effect there, it's long been drowned out by the seemingly endless river of scum, lies, and BS that is American politics. // Do you want to solve this problem? It's easy, save for the fact that, again, the people who could change it with their vote are the ones benefiting from it now. NO MORE ADVERTISING. By its nature, advertising is, at best, embellishment. At worst, it's stretched truths and outright lies. The opposing candidate is usually shown in grainy black and white looking like a deer in the headlights while the "good guy" is shown interacting with his constituents and kissing babies, not unlike an informercial, except that the only thing missing is the X through the screen. // James, I don't follow the Democratic party though, quite honestly, as the Republicans have pandered to the far right and should you force me to make a decision as to which way I'd lean, I'd hold my nose, gag a bit and probably lean a bit to the left. For the record, I voted for Reagan both times. Might have voted for Dole, too, but he came across as such a stodgy old fart that I couldn't.
gregory l. mitchell January 06, 2014 at 01:32 PM
Jim es Phil:Allow me to make a comment that I did wish to hit upon yesterday that really in the big scheme of things most of us are not really that far apart.At least you Jim Phil and myself.And this is the issue of the "Insiders"controlling who gets nominated,supported etc.on both sides of the isle in that we often have Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dumber to choose from!Point being is that who ever is elected the "Insiders"still are in control to pursue their agenda etc.You men may be old enough to remember the Goldwater/Johnson election of '64.Well Goldwater won the Republican nomination fair and square but he was about to have the rug pulled from beneath him by the "Insiders"from BOTH parties,including his own! You may remember that vicious TV ad depicting the little girl plucking pedals from the daisy as she counted down from 10 when she reached 1 you saw a huge fireball and mushroom cloud complete with audio.This ad was deplorable.Perhaps it was also used as a warning for future candidates down the road that if they don't toe their mark they will be politically destroyed. At any rate I do think that there's not a dimes worth of difference in our 2 major parties.Perhaps it is time for a 3rd party,it certainly is food for thought. Respectfully,G.L.Mitchell-W.C.
gregory l. mitchell January 06, 2014 at 01:48 PM
Hey great,that would be fun to meet everyone!I suggested either a brew or two,actually it was Leo who gets the credit for the idea.I said either that or coffee/and in a diner perhaps.I would only hope that everyone would feel up to meeting.If not so be it. Respectfully, Greg Mitchell-W.C.
Phil Brooks January 06, 2014 at 03:07 PM
Greg, The funny thing is that most of our problems, most notably the American political process and gun control, the latter which has become the subject of this thread, with the former not too terribly far behind, can be solved very easily. // Politics? Cut off the advertising. That's where most of the money goes anyway. Gun Control? I wish we could do what Australia did. But, as they're so homogeneous and we're not, what they did down there to curb guns (and, no, it's not illegal to own one) wouldn't work here. So, I'll settle for Switzerland. Matter of fact, with the regimentation over there, the best thing to do with those four neanderthals who killed Friedland and the probably millions like them would be put them in the army and straighten their asses out, though solitary with a rope and piano wire is a close second. // The trouble is that too many people are in it for themselves. I'd fight for this country (OK, at 55, I'm too old, I guess) if there were a bona fide reason to do it. But, to fill some war profiteer's pockets in a war that has to be packaged and sold to us? No, thanks. // I have tremendous respect for you and what you've done while wearing the uniform, Sgt. Mitchell. And I know that, as Gunnery Sergeant, you have tremendous respect for the firearms you own and operate. But it disappoints me to say this: I have no respect for our country. I wish I did. But, we've been drinking the Kool Aid laced with "The stars and stripes is always right and the countries that disagree with us are the bad guys." And, it's not that black and white. We've done (and continue to do) lots of bad things. And, to claim to have done them in the name of patriotism is just so terribly misleading. I'm very disappointed in what we've become.

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