Lunch and  Eye Witnessing the News (5/9/02)


The following news was happening during my lunch at the Chibogan (located at the Manila Breadhouse Shopping complex) last Wednesday (05/08/02) I just finished my ‘pakbet when I heard commotion outside. I stepped out and saw a plainclothesman hand cuffing the woman across Newark Avenue as curious onlookers started to gather around.  I was amazed that within a minute almost all the Police units on duty responded to the scene. I saw the face of the alleged female shooter who seems to be just the ordinary face you would encounter having lunch with. She could have run inside the Filipino turo-turo store and blend in. Instead she was caught infront of the Pizza House few doors from the Aliw Video. The Filipino video storeowner few years ago was involved in a Police incident as he allegedly made threatening gesture against a cop with machete inside his store.  The owner won police harassment suits few years later as the cop in question was discovered to be biased. The legal settlement was very meager as I think that it was not handled properly.

The traffic incident started in Palisades Ave near the   Dickinson HS.  During the lunch period Fil-am student sometimes hang around the Chibogan.  The high school teacher might have saved more injury as he reacted bravely to his former experienced as police officer of Jersey City. It is my hope that there will be more Filipino police officer and teacher in the near future.

Jersey Journal summarized:

A Jersey City police officer was shot and seriously injured during a routine traffic stop on Palisade Avenue yesterday afternoon, officials said. A 27-year-old North Bergen woman is in custody after being chased down by a retired cop who's a teacher at Dickinson High School.

According to police, the shooting took place in front of Dickinson High School at 12:51 p.m., after Chavis, a member of the department's Motorcycle Squad, stopped a red Mitsubishi jeep on Palisade Avenue near Washburn Street.

Police said Chavis pulled over the jeep, in which Gilestra and an unidentified male were riding, and radioed dispatch of the stop. He then placed the male, who police believe was the driver, in the back seat of the squad car, a procedure department officials said was standard.

John Ross, who was in his girlfriend's apartment in the Hudson Gardens Housing Complex across the street from the shooting, said he heard gunfire and quickly ran down to see what happened.

"I heard the shots, and I ran down," Ross said. "That's when I saw the cop, he was lying on his back."

Ross said the officer was bleeding from his chest area, but appeared to be conscious. He said paramedics and police responded to the scene within minutes of the shooting.

"The cops got here fast," Ross said. "They were here in a heartbeat."

But retired Jersey City Lt. James Ahern, who was finishing his lunch in the school's parking lot at the time of the shooting, was already in pursuit of Gilestra, who fled the scene with the weapon, a .32-caliber handgun, police said.

Ahern said he saw the shooting and quickly ran to the fallen officer, grabbed his weapon and handcuffs, and chased Gilestra on foot through the courtyard of the Hudson Gardens.

He said Gilestra ran until she reached the doorstep of Larry & Joe's Pizzeria on Newark Avenue, which was packed with noon-time customers. Ahern said he handcuffed her and kept her in custody until police arrived a few moments later.

"I responded to a brother officer who was in need," he said, as he recounted the chase and arrest yesterday. "Fortunately I was able to bring it to a successful conclusion."

Ahern, who retired in 1988 after serving for 25 years on the force, teaches social studies at Dickinson. When he retired, he had been the midnight tour commander for the North District, officials said. "It was my training and instinct," Ahern said. "I was just glad I was able to help.

"Once a police officer, always a police officer," he added.

Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham is heralding Ahern as a hero, saying the former cop stepped in and prevented a horrible crime from turning worse.

Ahern's training told him to secure the officer's weapon, as a crowd was forming at the scene, Cunningham said, and his instinct guided him in the chase.