Three women from Newark were arrested in connection with a shoplifting at Target in the Nassau Park Shopping Center on July 8. In addition, two of the women were charged with making terroristic threats and aggravated assault on an officer.
Sgt. Lee Brodowski was on patrol in the shopping center at about 6:41 p.m. when he was alerted about a shoplifting in progress at Target.
Store employees said that two suspects, later identified as Priscilla D. Valentine and Diane N. Wilson, were known to loss prevention officers from a previous incident, and they were in the process of allegedly attempting to steal vacuum cleaners. A third suspect was waiting for the other two women in the parking lot in a gray Dodge Charger.
Sgt. Brodowski arrived on the scene and began searching for the Dodge, while inside the store, Valentine and Wilson had abandoned the vacuums and headed for the store exit.
As the officer drove by the store, a loss prevention officer gestured towards the Dodge, which was backed into a handicapped parking space. Sgt. Brodowski parked his marked patrol car partially in front of the Dodge and turned on his patrol car’s overhead lights.
As Sgt. Brodowski was getting out of his his patrol car, the loss prevention officer pointed out Valentine and Wilson, who were leaving the Target. The two women ignored the officer’s commands to come to him and continued toward the Charger.
Valentine coughed as she entered the front passenger’s seat and closed the door while yelling, “I got the Corona!”
Wilson got into the back seat of the car. Sgt. Brodowski ordered her to stop, and then he reached into the car and attempted to take hold of Wilson’s arm. Valentine encouraged Wilson to cough. Wilson pulled down her face mask and intentionally coughed in an exaggerated manner on Sgt. Brodowski.
The driver, later identified as Tashaye R. Williamson, then fled the parking space a high rate of speed in the direction of Nassau Park Boulevard and Sgt. Brodowski immediately lost sight of the fleeing vehicle.
He alerted the other officers about what had happened, including being coughed on and the possibility that the suspects could be infected with COVID-19. He then drove around the area in search of the suspects.
A short time later, Sgt. Brodowski was driving south on Route 1 into Lawrence Township and found that Williamson had crashed the car into a concrete median, severely damaging and disabling the vehicle.
All three women fled the scene on foot and headed towards Mercer Mall. Other patrol responded to the scene and flooded the area in search of the subjects.
Officer Kyle LaForge apprehended Wilson behind the Mattress Factory, and Officers Brian Caulfield and Christian Crawford caught Valentine a short distance away at the southeast corner of David’s Bridal store. After a brief search, Officer LaForge located Williamson inside of the bathroom of the David’s Bridal.
Valentine and Wilson were transported to University of Penn Princeton Medical Center by Lawrence Township Emergency Services for treatment prior to being taken to the West Windsor Police Headquarters for processing. Williamson was taken directly to the WWPD.
Valentine and Wilson were charged with making terroristic threats, aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and hindering apprehension. Williamson was charged with eluding, obstruction of justice and hindering apprehension.
All three were sent to the Mercer County Corrections Center pending a future date at the Mercer County Superior Court.