Union resident arrested; weapons, low-grade explosives recovered from home, vehicle

UNION – A Girard Place resident was arrested Monday on weapons charges after setting off what investigators are calling a low-grade explosive device in a neighborhood near Route 22.

The explosive was an IED, or an improvised explosive device.

Alfred Intrabartolo, 62, was charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, second-degree certain persons not to own firearms and third-degree possession of a destructive device, with additional charges still pending as of Tuesday afternoon but not levied. The Girard Place resident remained in custody at the county jail on $250,000 cash only bail.

According to Union Police Director Dan Zieser, his department received complaints last week from residents living in the Prospect Street area adjacent to Route 22. They reported a man throwing what appeared to be explosive devices or fireworks out of his vehicle on multiple occasions.

In response, the police director said, a surveillance detail was set up Monday around 10 a.m. in an attempt to apprehend the suspect.

“Sure enough, our detectives were out there when he drove by and hurled what appeared to be an M80 out the window,” Zieser said late Monday afternoon in an interview with LocalSource, adding that the incident was in the vicinity of a methadone clinic.

Zieser said immediately following, police moved in to arrest Intrabartolo and search his vehicle, which uncovered a loaded .32 caliber handgun and explosive materials. After that, police protocol required that the Union County Prosecutor’s Office be called along with the Union County Bomb Squad, Union County HAZMAT team and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Subsequently, according to a press release from acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park, Intrabartolo’s home on Girard Place was searched and two additional handguns, a shotgun and low-grade explosive materials along with gunpowder were recovered.

Late Monday afternoon, Girard Place was jammed and overflowing with emergency vehicles and public safety officials responding to the potentially explosive situation. According to Prosecutor’s Office Public Information spokesperson Mark Spivey, this type of response occurs from all levels of local, county, state and federal authorities whenever there is even the possibility of a harmful explosive substance being involved.

“It’s what is done to ensure the public is protected,” he added.

With emergency lights flashing, local, county, state and federal vehicles of all sizes descended on the street located off Morris and Burnet avenues to assist in the search and seizure. This was quickly followed by the media, whose vehicles, cameras and reporters set up remotely in the parking lot of a nearby bank. Despite all the emergency vehicles and local, county, state and federal presence, Zieser assured the situation was never out of hand.

“There never was a threat to the public,” said the police director who spent 35 years working as a director for the Newark Police Department prior to retiring and heading the Union Police Department. Also, no one was injured during the investigation.

Initially it was difficult to obtain any information regarding the massive police and bomb squad presence, with all inquiries regarding the emergency situation referred directly to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. In fact, even as media helicopters circled above, and the emergency vehicles began to pull away from the scene, a county HAZMAT member said he could not comment on the situation.

Around 5 p.m. the Prosecutor’s Office released a statement.