Three charged in connection with Elizabeth robberies

Three people have been charged in connection with two robberies occurring approximately 75 minutes and a block apart in Elizabeth last week, including one incident in which the victim was shot on the platform of the downtown NJ Transit train station, according to a joint announcement made Friday by acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park, NJ Transit Police Chief Christopher Trucillo, Elizabeth Police Chief Patrick Shannon, and Elizabeth Police Director James Cosgrove.

Kevin Smith, 18, of Middlesex Borough, Kyeaira Simpkins, 19, of Elizabeth, and Luquan Dotson, 20, of Elizabeth each is charged with first-degree robbery, second-degree robbery, and related weapons offenses.

It was shortly before 4:25 a.m. on Friday, August 1 when police rushed to the northbound platform of the train station to encounter a robbery victim suffering from a gunshot wound, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor James Tansey with the Prosecutor’s Office’s Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force. The male victim, whose cash and cell phone had been taken, was transported to a local hospital for treatment and released, Tansey said.

Shortly after 5:35 a.m. that morning, police rushed to the area of Cherry and West Grand streets in Elizabeth on a report of a second robbery. There, a second victim told authorities that he also had his cash and cell phone stolen by a group of three people.

About 20 minutes later, Elizabeth Police Department patrol officers stopped three suspects later identified as Smith, Simpkins, and Dotson on East Broad Street in downtown Elizabeth. During the course of making the arrests, the officers recovered both cell phones that had been stolen. An intensive joint investigation involving the Elizabeth Police Department, NJ Transit Police, and the Prosecutor’s Office resulted in charges being filed against all three defendants.

Bail for the defendants was set at $300,000 apiece for the first robbery and $250,000 for the second.

First-degree charges typically carry penalties of 10 to 20 years in state prison, while second-degree crimes result in typical terms of 5 to 10 years.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.