The Verona Police Department has made an an arrest in an alleged road rage incident that happened this past Sunday.
According to the VPD, at approximately 1:52 p.m. on Sunday. December 19, a 69-year-old female reported she was driving south on Mount Prospect Avenue when she attempted to go around a vehicle that was entering traffic from the Exxon property. She said that she and the other driver, a male, exchanged hand gestures and she drove on. The woman told the police that, as she approached Sunset Avenue, the vehicle passed her and then stopped, blocking her lane of traffic. She said she saw the male point a firearm at her from inside his vehicle. The driver then exited his car and walked towards her vehicle, continually pointing the gun at her while yelling.
After making several gestures with the firearm, the male got back into his vehicle and left the area. The woman was able to remember several characters of the license plate, but the police found that they they did not immediately match the description of the suspect’s vehicle. VPD Sergeant John Lecreux and Officer Anthony Huber were, however, able to investigate several plate combinations, which led to a possible suspect vehicle and Sgt. Lecreux confirmed that this plate matched the vehicle description given by the victim. The VPD was also able to confirm that this vehicle had been in Verona on several occasions because it had been captured by the automated license plate readers that are mounted on several Verona Police patrol vehicles.
The VPD investigation led Detective Lieutenant Timothy Banta and Detective TJ Conroy to the Union, N.J., home of the potential suspect, where they observed a male fitting the description getting into the vehicle in question. They stopped the car and as they spoke to the driver, he stated that he had a pellet gun in the glove compartment. Lt. Banta secured the weapon, which was found to be an Airsoft gun.
Lovensky Merceda, 23, of Union was later arrested and charged with two 4th degree crimes: Aggravated Assault 2C:12-1B (4) for knowingly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life point a firearm in the direction of another, and Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose 2C:39-4(e) for possessing an imitation firearm under circumstances that would lead another observer to reasonably believe that it is possessed for an unlawful purpose.
After processing, Merceda was given a court date and released.