More details in the case against the four men accused of carjacking and killing Dustin Friedland in front of his wife at The Mall at Short Hills on December 15 are emerging.
In surveillance video collected from the mall the alleged carjackers--Hanif Thompson, Karif Ford, Basim Henry, and Kevin Roberts--are shown arriving at the scene in a Chevrolet Suburban registered to Henry's mother, states NBC 4 New York. It is this piece of information that led authorities to the suspects.
GAWKER reports prosecutors believe the men were casing out the mall's parking lot looking for an expensive car to steal. The mall has cut back on security in the past few years, and Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura told NJ.com, “We used to be contacted by that mall to provide additional people for their parking lot on the outside of the mall, and we haven’t heard from them in a while."
The deceased, Dustin Friedland, had just finished Christmas shopping with his wife Jamie when four men held them up at gunpoint. After a struggle one of the men shot Dustin in the head before escaping in the Friedland's Range Rover. His wife Jamie was forced out of the car at gunpoint, but was not hurt, according to NJ.com sources. Authorities believe Dustin may have been trying to protect his wife who was already in the car, reports GAWKER.
After Dustin Friedland was shot two of the men fled in the carjacked Range Rover. The other two left in the Suburban owned by Henry's mother, with Henry driving, states NBC 4 New York. By tracking Henry's cell phone to a hotel in Easton, Pa. they were able to locate him and make the arrest. The other three men were arrested in Newark and Irvington, according to NBC 4 New York.
The couple was targeted solely for their car.
"It was the car, not the person, that appears to be the target of this crime," Carolyn Murray, acting Essex County prosector, said Saturday reports NBC 4 New York.
Fontoura believes the entire event was avoidable if more security had been present.
In an interview with NJ.com Fontoura said, “If I sound angry, I am, because this is the type of thing we should be doing...maybe it was just an oversight, but let’s stop with this oversight. Let’s figure out a way that we can make people feel safe when they come to the shopping malls.”
Michael McAvinue, the general manager of the Mall at Short Hills, is reported by NJ.com as saying Millburn police were patrolling the parking lot on the night of the shooting. He has declined to comment further, as has the Millburn police department.
Hanif Thompson, Karif Ford, Basim Henry, and Kevin Roberts remain in custody on $2 million bail. All four are charged with murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. They are scheduled to be arraigned January 8.