BRANCHBURG TOWNSHIP, NJ (Somerset County) – A Somerset County man is facing several charges including possession a stolen firearm last week in Branchburg Township, according to Somerset County Prosecutor John P. McDonald.
On Thursday, July 21, at around 6:40 a.m., police responded to a residence on Burnt Mills Road for a report of a verbal dispute, McDonald said.
Upon arrival of the investigating officer, he met with Jorge Mercado, 24, of Branchburg Township in the driveway of the residence. The officer spoke with Mercado and directed him to remain in the driveway while the officer met with the complainant inside of the residence, McDonald said.
While inside the residence the complainant advised the officer that a verbal dispute had occurred earlier with Mercado. The officer was directed to a handgun which was in plain view, belonging to Mercado, in an open lunch box on the kitchen table, McDonald said.
The firearm was loaded with a large capacity ammunition magazine which contained hollow point bullets. A National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check of the firearm revealed that that the firearm had been reported stolen in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, McDonald said.
It also revealed that Mercado is prohibited from possessing a firearm. The responding officer then exited the residence to speak with Mercado who had fled the area on foot. A search of the area with the assistance of additional Branchburg Officers yielded negative results in locating Mercado, McDonald said.
Then at around 3:50 p.m. Branchburg Township police returned to Burnt Mills Road where they discovered Mercado hiding inside of the residence and was arrested without incident. A subsequent consent search of the vehicle which Mercado had been operating revealed a fraudulent check that had been stolen from a company which he is not affiliated with, McDonald said.
Mercado was charged with second-degree certain persons prohibited from possessing a firearm, third-degree receiving stolen property, third-degree theft, fourth-degree possession of hollow point bullets, fourth-degree possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine, fourth-degree obstructing the administration of law, and disorderly persons harassment.
Mercado was then lodged in the Somerset County Jail pending a detention hearing, McDonald said.
Anyone with information relating to this incident to contact the Branchburg Township Police Department at 908-526-3830 or via the STOPit app. The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports, and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.