Police Chase on Campus Ends in Guns-Drawn Arrest

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Published November 8, 2021
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The Montclarion
A police officer holds a gun towards the suspect right outside the Center for Environmental and Life Sciences on campus. Photo courtesy of Tina Wu
Police officers handcuff and arrest the suspect. Video courtesy of Tina Wu

A dramatic scene unfolded this Monday morning at Montclair State University after a man in a stolen car was arrested on campus at gunpoint by the Montclair State University Police Department and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO).

As classes went on and tour groups walked by the Center of Environmental and Life Sciences (CELS), officers drew their weapons upon arresting who they later identified as 20-year-old Jason L. Toro, for which The Montclarion was present on the scene. Officers could be heard yelling at the suspect to “get down on the ground,” where they then quickly arrested and escorted him to a Passaic County Sheriff patrol car.

A student-led tour for prospective students passes by the incident shortly after Toro was apprehended. Julian Rigg | The Montclarion

A student-led tour for prospective students passes by the incident shortly after the man was arrested.
Julian Rigg | The Montclarion

Tina Wu, a first-year Ph.D. student studying earth and environmental science, was an eyewitness to the police activity Monday morning.

“After the guy got arrested, they searched through his car [and] found his wallet, phone and some other files in a folder, and then put them into the police car,” Wu said.

Officers search the stolen Toyota Avalon after it struck a light post next to the Center for Environmental and Life Scienes. Julian Rigg | The Montclarion

Officers search the stolen Toyota Avalon after it struck a light post next to CELS.
Julian Rigg | The Montclarion

An officer on patrol received a LoJack signal at 10:21 a.m., notifying him that a white Toyota Avalon was stolen, according to Bill Maer, PCSO press liaison. The car was located near Webster Road and Stone Street, which is on campus at Montclair State.

The responding officer noted that Toro, who is not a Montclair State student, was accompanied by a woman, who was later identified as 18-year-old Dyasiaa M. Devine-Gonzalez. According to authorities, she is a student at the university.

As the responding officer stopped and approached the car, Toro began reversing away from him. Toro refused the officer’s order to stop and proceeded to make an illegal U-turn to flee the scene.

Campus police were then notified, and a brief pursuit ensued, which ended in Toro striking a light pole at a dead end next to CELS.

Police at the scene of the arrest shortly after Toro was placed in handcuffs. Julian Rigg | The Montclarion

Police at the scene of the arrest shortly after the suspect was placed in handcuffs.
Julian Rigg | The Montclarion

Devine-Gonzalez was not present in the vehicle when it had come to a halt. Officers later arrested her after she had fled onto campus.

Toro faces multiple charges, including one count of theft between $500 and $75,000, one count of obstructing the administration of law, one count of eluding law enforcement and multiple motor vehicle summons, according to PCSO.

Devine-Gonzalez has been charged with one count of “riding in [a] vehicle knowing it was taken without consent of [the] owner,” in addition to one count of resisting arrest.

Passaic County Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik said the Montclair State Police Department was helpful in the arrest of Toro and Devine-Gonzalez.

Three PSCO units and three Montclair State University police officers responded to the stolen vehicle on Monday morning. Julian Rigg | The Montclarion

Three PSCO units and three Montclair State University police officers responded to the stolen vehicle on Monday morning.
Julian Rigg | The Montclarion

“The Sheriff’s Office is appreciative of the tremendous relationship it has with the [Montclair State] Police Department,” Berdnik said.

The last incident where police drew guns during an arrest on campus was in 2018 on the first day of classes after a fight broke out in the NJ Transit parking lot.

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