At A Glance | February 19

Wantage Woman Accused of Texting Bomb Threats to Restaurant, Employees

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A Wantage (Sussex County) woman was jailed on several charges after authorities said she sent bomb threats to a fast-food restaurant and one of its employees. Police arrested Amanda Toth (pictured), 26, on February 11 after determining she used an app to disguise her cellphone number and impersonate others. The owner of a McDonald’s franchise in Franklin (Sussex County) reported to police that morning that he received a threat via text message specifically targeting the restaurant. No explosives were found during a search of the building. The owner also told police that an employee received a text message while at their Hamburg (Sussex County) residence, stating “people would be injured” at the restaurant. Authorities did not find explosives during a search of the home. Toth is charged with causing false public alarm, identity theft, and cyber harassment.


Middlesex Man Charged with Detonating Explosive Devices, Having Pipe Bombs

Authorities arrested a Middlesex (Middlesex County) man accused of detonating an explosive device for possessing two pipe bombs and materials to make more. Prosecutors charged Joseph Colucci, 59, on February 10 with third-degree arson, third-degree possession of destructive devices, and fourth-degree causing or risking widespread injury or damage. While responding to an emergency aid call at Colucci’s residence the evening of February 9, police said they discovered two pipe bombs and bomb-making materials, including gunpowder. Authorities evacuated the area and called in the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit and New Jersey State Police Bomb Unit, who determined the bombs were not a hazard. Prosecutors said Colucci admitted responsibility for blowing up a pipe bomb near the Warrenville Road bridge in 2017.


Oregon Man Admits He Threatened Shooting at Church

An Oregon man pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime charge on February 12 for making threats and conducting violent acts toward a church. Benjamin Jaramillo Hernandez made “a series of progressively more threatening and violent actions targeting St. Mary Catholic Church in Eugene in September,” according to prosecutors. The 69-year-old, who also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of ammunition, had been escorted off church property following an outburst during a service on September 9. Five days later, a church employee reported to police that someone had dispensed pepper spray on exterior door handles and through a mail slot of the building, which caused employees to suffer burning sensations in their fingers and respiratory distress. A police officer and FBI agent determined Hernandez was responsible after reviewing surveillance footage. While near a public library across the street from the church on September 16, he shouted “I’ve got something for you right here” while pointing to a bag he was carrying. Church employees reported finding bullets and a note threatening a shooting four days later, which authorities also attributed to Hernandez through surveillance footage. Police arrested Hernandez at the library on September 21 and found a can of pepper spray and ammunition on his body. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the hate crime charge and up to 10 years in prison on the ammunition charge when he is sentenced on May 22.


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Intelligence Management Bureau at outreach@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.