Couple facing federal charges after standoff in Secaucus

Rahim Harris and Haneefha White face multiple weapons charges

Things ended peacefully after an hours-long standoff.
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Things ended peacefully after an hours-long standoff.

A husband and wife were arrested on weapons charges after a standoff at a Hudson County hotel, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced on March 22.

Rahim Harris, 42, of Maplewood, is charged  with one count of possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon. His wife, Haneefha White, 39, of Pottsville, Pa., is charged with aiding and abetting the possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon.

Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. They will have their initial appearances by videoconference at a date to be determined.

A standoff with law enforcement

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, on Dec. 21, 2019, Harris was charged with weapons and aggravated assault offenses allegedly committed on that date.

Then on March 14, 2021, law enforcement received information indicating that Harris was in a specific room at the Extended Stay Hotel at 1 Plaza Drive in Secaucus. Law enforcement officers responded to the hotel a few hours later to arrest Harris, who was identified from a photograph as the person staying in the specific hotel room.

Officers observed Harris’ wife Haneefha White entering the room. They attempted to summon White while she was in the hallway, but she entered the room and closed the door. White then called the front desk and asked why police were in the hallway.

Law enforcement officers spoke with White on the telephone to persuade her to come out. She indicated there were other individuals in the room and that they were “on edge” and had firearms and hand grenades.

After several hours of unsuccessful negotiations with White, law enforcement called the room and Harris picked up the phone. Harris stated that he did not want to come out because of the arrest warrant and that he was “prepared for war” and “ready to die.”

In the early hours of March 15, Harris and White, who were the only occupants of the room, surrendered after seven hours. A lawful search of the room yielded numerous weapons, fraudulent identification papers, bank cards, $36,910 in cash and a vehicle registration.

“Due to patience, restraint and professionalism of every law enforcement officer who responded to this incident, it was brought to a safe conclusion without any injury or any force being used,” Chief Dennis Miller said. “I would like to personally thank the Hudson County Regional SWAT Team, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, Jersey City Police Department, New Jersey Transit Police, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Newark Division, along with Hudson Regional Hospital EMS and Secaucus and Jersey City Fire Departments for their assistance during this protracted event. This protracted event highlights the inherent danger law enforcement faces with the intent to always protect the sanctity of human life.”

“This is another example of negotiation and de-escalation tactics and training leading to a non-violent conclusion without any use of force,” said Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez. “I commend the women and men of all agencies who responded for their professionalism in this incident which also resulted in the removal of numerous illegal firearms.”

Project Guardian

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws.

Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence, emphasizing coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities and greater information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), including taking appropriate actions when it is for mental health reasons.

The programs are designed to ensure that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat. For more information about Project Guardian, go to https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson, with the investigation leading to the charges. She also thanked the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office; the Secaucus Police Department; the Hudson County Regional SWAT Team; the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office; the Jersey City Police Department Bomb Squad; and the New Jersey Transit Police Department for their roles in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan W. Romankow of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Violent Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.