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Troubled Bergenfield man had cache of assault weapons, ammo, police say

Photo Credit: shows proximity of Bergenfield HS complex and scene of West Clinton Avenue seizure
Photo Credit: shows proximity of Bergenfield HS complex and scene of West Clinton Avenue seizure
Photo Credit: shows proximity of Bergenfield HS complex and scene of West Clinton Avenue seizure

CLIFFVIEW PILOT OUT FRONT: Bergenfield police who found a cache of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines in a home around the corner from the borough high school late last night said they rushed there after receiving a call from a psychiatric screening program that the owner was extremely troubled.

Inside the house at 336 West Clinton Ave. ( left ), Bergenfield Capt. Michael Carr said, police who had obtained a search warrant found:

several rifles;
a grenade launcher;
handguns, shotguns, and knives;
(23) large capacity ammunition magazines.

They charged 65-year-old Vincent J. Garcia with six counts of possession of assault firearms, specifically:

an Inland .30-cal. carbine rifle;
a Springfield M1 .223-cal. rifle
a 37mm Auto Grenade Launcher,
a Bushmaster M15 E2S rifle,
a Sampson MPG/Stag Arms Stag 15 5.56mm rifle,
a Ruger mini-14 .223-cal. rifle.

They also charged him with having the ammo magazines.


UPDATE (5:10 p.m.): Bergenfield police said they have determined that weapons they seized for safekeeping during a search of the house include a Mossberg rifle and a Glock Model 22 .40-cal. Handgun that have defaced serial numbers and shortened barrels, leading to additional charges. Another charge was added after a Ruger 10/22 rifle was identified.



The call came in from the Psychiatric Emergency Screening Program (PESP or 262-HELP) that Victor J. Garcia “was despondent over recent events in his personal life,” Detective Capt. Michael Carr said.

“The PESP , which is a mental health screening program with mobile outreach, advised the Police that there were weapons in the house of the caller,” Carr added.

Officers were dispatched to check on Garcia before PESP workers arrived, he said.

“After speaking with him, the officers observed in plain view several weapons believed to be assault firearms,” Carr said. “In addition the officers observed grenades and a mortar round.”

Garcia was taken by Bergenfield Ambulance to Bergen Region Medical Center, while the county PD Bomb Squad checked out the arsenal.

“Two grenades and the one mortar round were found to be inert and posed no danger,” Carr said. “Only one item, a stick grenade also known as a ‘German potato Masher,’ was taken by the Bomb Squad to be checked further.

The weapons and ammo were taken to headquarters, where the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department-BCI-Ballistics Unit identified them, he said.

Carr noted that Garcia “was cooperative with law enforcement and PESP. No threats were made or was there any danger posed to officers, PESP screeners or area residents.”

Garcia, who turns 66 on Monday, remains in the custody of the sheriff’s office at the county hospital, pending further psychiatric evaluation. His bail is $200,000.

He has a Bergenfield Municipal Court appearance scheduled for a week from tomorrow.

Bergenfield police involved in the investigation, seizure and arrest include Lt. Mark Richards, Sgt. Jerry Stapleton and Officers Nic Deleon, Michael Legregni, and Thomas Miller, as well as Detective Sgt. Tom Hegel and Detective William Duran.

This GoogleMaps photo shows proximity of Bergenfield HS complex and scene of West Clinton Avenue seizure





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