The owners of a scrap metal yard in New Jersey were tied up, beaten and threatened with guns when a group of armed robbers stormed the business looking for cash and valuable platinum, then fled while shooting at police officers, authorities say.
The five robbers went into the Bayway Scrap Metals on Amboy Avenue in Elizabeth Friday afternoon and tied up several employees, including owner Carol Navarro and her husband. They were threatened and held at gunpoint for 90 minutes.
"One of them asked how long we were married," said Navarro. "I told him 45 years, and he said, 'Well, you're going to die together.'"
"I could hear him keep telling my husband, 'Shut up or I'm going to shoot you, I'm going to kill you,'" she said.
The men were after $20,000 in cash and a pile of catalytic converters worth an estimated $250,000 because of the platinum inside. When they got what they wanted, Navarro said they told her, "Today is your lucky day."
Police spotted the robbers two miles away with a U-Haul truck full of stolen catalytic converters. They allegedly fired at officers as they tried to get away, two of them in a stolen vehicle, but four of them were eventually caught. No officers were injured.
Michael Howard, 22, and Rafael Clemons, 27, Sharod Saunders, 30, and Steven Chambers, 47, have all been charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree carjacking, aggravated assault and multiple weapons offenses, officials said Saturday.
Bail for each defendant was set at $1 million.
Information on attorneys for Howard, Clemons, Saunders and Chambers was not immediately available.
One suspect remains at large and is believed to be heavily armed and dangerous. Police are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the suspect's capture and conviction.
Police recovered an AK rifle and three handguns from the arrested suspects.
Navarro helped identify the suspects in a lineup. Her husband needed stitches but he and the other hostages are going to be OK, she said.
Navarro said she immediately called her son Jamie Navarro after the robbery. He believes his family's scrap metal business was targeted.
"They absolutely, 150 percent, they planned this," he said. "This was planned, premeditated."
"I think they're a bunch of scumbags, and I hope they rot in hell," he said. "I hope they get a long time in prison because that's what they deserve."
-- Brian Thompson contributed to this report.