On January 25, at approximately 3 p.m., the Long Branch Police received a call of a possible kidnapping near Prospect Street and Bath Ave.
According to the Long Branch Police Department, while officers were en route to this call, another call came in from the same area concerning the robbery of a cell phone. Sgt. Robert Bell immediately responded to the area and was able to detain a person who fit the description of the accused in both incidents. Officers Gary Vecchione, Daniel Richards and Hector Umana arrived shortly thereafter, and were able to ascertain that three separate incidents had occurred, all involving girls aged 12-14 who had either just exited the school bus or were walking home from school.
Police say the accused, later identified as Daniel Omar Mejia-Reyes, 27, approached the girls separately, but all within a few minutes of each other. In the first two incidents, he forcibly robbed the victims of their cell phones. In the last case he picked up the young victim and attempted to remove her from the area. In the first two cases, a bus driver and bus aide saw the robberies and came to the victims’ aid, called 911 and ushered the victims back onto the bus. In the last case, the victim was walking home from school. She attempted to fight off her attacker and was helped by another classmate.
Detectives arrived at the scene at the same time. Detective Jake Pascucci became the lead investigator and was assisted by Detective Sgt. Brendan Cahill, Romano, O’Brien, and Kennedy. They were able to arrest Mejia-Reyes, who was charged with two counts of Robbery, Criminal Restraint, Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact and Sexual Assault. He was remanded to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution with no bail and additionally held on an Immigration detainer.
“The quick response time and actions by both the Patrol Division and the Detective Bureau, working together, brought this incident to a quick conclusion, ending in the arrest of the accused. Everyone involved, including the bus aide, driver and student, should be commended and are being hailed as local heroes,” said Public Safety Director Jason Roebuck.
If anyone has any further information please contact Det. Jake Pascucci at 732-222-1000.