NEW BRUNSWICK — A grand jury in Middlesex County has indicted three men on charges of robbing a bank in Franklin Township and then shooting at police officers while fleeing through North Brunswick and New Brunswick, where they were apprehended, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced Thursday.
The 24-count indictment, handed up in New Brunswick on May 25, charges the trio with counts of attempted murder of three New Brunswick police officers, armed robbery, conspiracy, theft, eluding police, the theft of two getaway vehicles, receiving stolen property and weapons offenses for carrying five guns, including semi-automatic weapons and a sawed-off shotgun during the robbery on March 12, 2009.
In addition, the grand jury handed up three separate indictments charging each of the defendants with five counts of illegally possessing weapons, as each of them had previously served prison terms for various offenses and were banned by law from having weapons.
The three defendants were identified as: Anthony Peterson, 45, and James Holmes, 46, both of Newark, and James King, also known as Abdullah Muhammad, 54, of East Orange.
A fourth man initially charged in the robbery and shooting, James Phillips Jr., then 59, died April 4, 2009, from two gunshot wounds. Holmes and King also sustained gunshot wounds, but since have recovered.
North Brunswick and New Brunswick police were advised of a bank robbery at 5:56 p.m. on March 12, 2009, at a Bank of America branch on Route 27 at Veronica Avenue in Franklin Township in Somerset County. Franklin Township and North Brunswick police became involved in the pursuit of the suspects, who headed into New Brunswick, where city police officers joined in the pursuit.
New Brunswick officers followed the suspects’ vehicle onto Delafield Street, which ends at the rear of Saint Peter’s University Hospital. The suspects’ vehicle, a 1996 green Ford Windstar, crashed into a security gate, and the four suspects got out of the van. One or more of them began firing at the police officers, who returned the gunfire.
The grand jury charged that the men fired upon Michael Coppola, Adam Ramirez, and Steven Dunkel, all New Brunswick police officers.
The suspects ran to nearby Guilden Street, where they were apprehended by police. None of the officers was injured. The injured defendants were quickly taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
In addition to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and New Brunswick police, authorities from North Brunswick, Franklin Township, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and the FBI conducted investigations.
The grand jury handed up charges in Middlesex County after federal charges filed against the defendants in U.S. District Court were resolved on May 24.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, Peterson, King and Holmes are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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