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Police Arrest Drug Suspect After Violent Struggle

Tip led Essex County Sheriff's Officer to Walgreens in West Caldwell Wednesday night.

Police Arrest Drug Suspect After Violent Struggle Police Arrest Drug Suspect After Violent Struggle

A drug suspect was arrested in West Caldwell Wednesday night following a pursuit from a local pharmacy and a violent struggle with an Essex County sheriff’s officer.

Sheriff Armando Fontoura said in a release Thursday officers from his department who had been conducting a six-week fraudulent prescription drug investigation received a tip late Wednesday a man was attempting to obtain oxycodone pills with a bogus prescription at located at 601 Passaic Ave.

Sheriff’s Officer Lt. Peter Corbo responded to the scene at 9 p.m., met with and briefed Patrolman Brian Joy of the and entered the pharmacy.

When the uniformed officers entered the pharmacy, the suspect, Michael Hawkins, 34, of Newark spotted them and ran from the store. Once outside, Hawkins plowed into a 79-year-old woman, knocking her to the ground. The woman, a resident of Fairfield, suffered multiple lacerations to her nose, head and forearm and a broken finger.

Corbo caught up with the suspect as he entered the rear of a black 2004 Ford Explorer with a second suspect at the wheel. As Corbo attempted to remove Hawkins from the vehicle the suspect pummeled the officer with his fists.  

The second suspect put the SUV in gear, turned the steering wheel sharply and spun away from the scene. At this point, Corbo was violently ejected from the rear seat and his hands broke through the vehicle’s rear window. As a result, Corbo suffered injuries to his back and chest and lacerations to his hands. Corbo and the female victim were taken to Mountainside Hospital for treatment and later released.

The abandoned SUV was discovered three blocks from the scene by West Caldwell police and Hawkins who was in the vicinity and now on foot was placed under arrest. A loaded handgun was recovered from the SUV.

Later in the evening, witnesses told sheriff’s officers and West Caldwell police a person matching the description of the SUV driver may have boarded a New Jersey Transit bus on Bloomfield Avenue. That lead is being investigated.

“About six weeks ago, the county hospital center reported to us that a prescription pad had been stolen,” Fontoura said in the release. “Our department has been working in close harmony with federal drug agencies, municipal police departments in Essex, Passaic and Union counties, as well as area pharmacies, to track down these suspects. The investigation remains on-going.”   

Hawkins was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of receiving stolen property, obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud and resisting arrest.

Judge Bridget Stecher set Hawkins’s bail at $50,000. Other local and federal charges on Hawkins are also pending. Hawkins is detained at the Essex County Correctional Facility where he awaits arraignment later this week.

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