MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – A Mountainside man was arrested at Newark Liberty Airport last week while attempting to board a plane for Florida after he had allegedly used a shotgun to rob a jewelry store in Passaic County, police said.
Marc Niedle, 30, and his girlfriend, Emily Lopazanski, 34, of the Fords section of Woodbridge, walked into Massola Jewelers in Wayne on Tuesday, June 19, Wayne Police Detective Capt. Laurence Martin said.
Niedle and Lopazanski are facing several charges, including aggravated assault and robbery, Martin said, adding that they were being held at the Passaic County Jail as of Monday, June 25.
Wayne police detectives and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Unit responding to a 9-1-1 call arrived at the store at 11:15 a.m. The Wayne Police
Department Headquarters is a little more than 1,000 feet away from the jewelry store.
Police said they saw the owner, George Massola, and his son, Roger, wrestling with a female on the sidewalk outside the store. Police handcuffed Lopazanski but Niedle fled the scene before police arrived.
Once Niedle was identified as the other suspect, Martin said he contacted the Mountainside Police Department, which set up surveillance at Niedle’s Larkspur Drive home at about noon.
“Initially, we were looking for (Niedle),” Mountainside Officer-in-Charge Joe Giannuzzi said Thursday, June 21. “That’s why we’re setting up surveillance on the home, looking to see if he came out of the home or tried to get into the home. Once we knew he was in custody at Newark Airport with the Wayne police and Port Authority police, obviously we had his whereabouts down at that point.”
Niedle was caught by Wayne police and Port Authority police at Terminal C at the airport as he waited to board a flight bound for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Wayne police said.
“There was no struggle at the airport,” Martin said. “We had plenty of law enforcement there to assist in the apprehension.”
A Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun Niedle had allegedly used during the robbery was recovered at the store, Martin said. He did not if know if the gun was registered to Niedle.
Images from the jewelry store’s surveillance footage were provided to LocalSource by the Wayne Police Department. Martin said the images show Niedle, who was wearing sunglasses, pointing the gun at the shop owner’s son. He said Lopazanski, also wearing sunglasses, is seen standing to Niedle’s right.
Police said Niedle sprayed the Massolas with mace during the robbery. They were treated by the Wayne Memorial Volunteer First Aid Squad for chemical exposure to their eyes and face.
Niedle and Lopazanski were charged with robbery and aggravated assault with a weapon, as well as conspiracy and illegal weapons counts.
Martin declined to say if anything had been taken from the shop.
The Mountainside police also assisted Wayne detectives in executing a search warrant of Niedle’s home on Larkspur Drive.
“The Mountainside police were more than accommodating,” Martin said. “Those guys were fabulous, every person we worked with there. I was one of the people that called them initially. I spoke to the dispatcher there and I got a call back … within minutes. … Their attitude was, ‘Whatever you need, we’ll do it. We’re standing by. You tell us what you need.’ I was very appreciative of their cooperative spirit and professionalism.”
Giannuzzi said Detective Sgt. Michael Jackson, Detective Stephen DeVito and Detective Shawn Bendik, along with “units from the patrol force,” assisted the Wayne police.
On Saturday, June 23, the blinds were closed at 1622 Larkspur Drive, a house situated halfway up a steep incline.
A man who answered the door for LocalSource identified himself as Niedle’s father. He refused to answer any questions about his son.