NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—One of the three Exxon stations located in the city's First Ward was the scene of armed robbery on May 9 at 11:36pm, according to the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD).
The incident was first reported publicly on RLSMedia.com the following morning, and later that day, NBPD Detectives arrested the man they believe was behind the incident at a hotel in South Brunswick.
At the corner of George Street and Commercial Avenue, the Exxon is one of only a few gas stations left in the city that is not located along a major highway. It's located next to the Lord Stirling Elementary School, and across from the home of the Rutgers University Police Department.
The incident occurred just three days after a shooting injured two juveniles in an apartment complex one block away, and two days before a group was robbed and threatened with a sharp object on the nearby Douglass campus of Rutgers.
Nevertheless, the NBPD was the agency that investigated the incident, and eventually caught up with the alleged robber in South Brunswick.
Cesar Rodriguez, age 45, was listed as a city resident in a NBPD press release announcing his arrest, but perhaps he was trying to lay low at an out-of-town hotel. He faces charges of robbery and weapons offenses.
"During the robbery Mr. Rodriguez approached the gas station attendant and displayed a black handgun and demanded cash," reads the official NBPD press release.
"An undisclosed amount of money was turned over to Mr. Rodriguez and he fled the area in a 4-door, red Toyota Camry. The gas station attendant was able to provide the license plate number on the suspect vehicle to investigating detectives."
According to a NBPD press release issued on May 12, they apprehended Rodriguez "without incident" around 5pm on May 10 at the La Mirage Hotel, located on Route 1 in South Brunswick.
That night, Rodriguez checked into a different kind of hotel: the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center in North Brunswick.
But after just three nights there, he checked out on May 16, according to the jail's records department. He was apparently approved for pretrial release under the state's new "bail reform."
Anyone with additional information on this incident is asked to contact Detective Brandt Gregus at (732) 745-5217.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.