To curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy has issued a stay-at-home order to all residents and a directive to observe all other social distancing measures. However, not all Hudson County locals are following the rules.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, recently released incidents from the last week of April, including coughing and spitting assaults and violations of Murphy’s executive orders.
“We’re cracking down on those who jeopardize public health and undermine public safety,” said Grewal. “We have zero patience for those who spit on cops, gouge prices, or try to exploit this pandemic for their personal gain.”
Margaret O’Leary, 20, from Secaucus, was charged on May 12 with four counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, two counts of throwing bodily fluids, resisting arrest, refusing to be fingerprinted, and other disorderly persons offenses.
The incident began with a 9-1-1 hangup call marked by screaming in the background, according to Grewal.
Upon their arrival at her home, Secaucus police officers encountered what they described as an irate and combative O’Leary. She allegedly approached police and pulled at one officer’s vest, then allegedly kicked the same officer in the groin.
When an ambulance arrived, O’Leary refused medical attention. She was subsequently taken into custody by Secaucus police.
At police headquarters, O’Leary allegedly became combative again. As police tried to transport her to an ambulance, she allegedly removed a spit guard and spit at an officer. Once in the ambulance, O’Leary allegedly removed a second spit guard and spit at another officer.
This is the second such incident in recent weeks regarding a Hudson County resident spitting at Secaucus police officers during arrests.
COVID-19 terroristic threats
Julio Pineda, 41, from West New York, was arrested on May 2 by the Secaucus Police Department. Pineda was charged with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency, throwing bodily fluid at a law enforcement officer, and disorderly persons offenses of shoplifting, obstruction, and violating the emergency orders.
Pineda was initially arrested for shoplifting and obstruction at The Home Depot. At the police station, the situation allegedly escalated.
“I have coronavirus, you are all going to [expletive] die,” Pineda allegedly said. He then began coughing into the air. When an officer tried to calm Pineda down, he allegedly coughed multiple times at the officer, who was in close proximity.
Callahan shared a stern message to all residents who endanger others during the pandemic.
“Those who choose to ignore the law and selfishly place others at risk will face swift law enforcement action,” Callahan said. “Although law enforcement and medical professionals are on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, we are ultimately winning the war because of the extraordinary resolve and fortitude of New Jersey citizens who are doing their part day in and day out, abiding by the executive orders and sacrificing for the greater good.”
Grewal also announced enforcement actions targeting price-gouging, consumer fraud violations, and alcoholic beverage control violations.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.