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Serious charges could await gunman in Wyckoff holdup

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Police investigating a shot fired during an attempted holdup of a Wyckoff pizzeria owner could bring charges against the gunman as serious as attempted murder, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.

“It remains unclear whether [he] was shooting at the victim, or whether the shot was an accidental discharge or intended to frighten the victim” at Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox said this morning.

Investigators also haven’t officially identified which of two Paterson men arrested in connection with the aborted robbery fired the .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, which was found tossed onto the property of a nearby home. It still contained an unspent shell, Fox said.

Police recovered the bullet, which went through the upstairs bedroom window of the restaurant owner’s son, who wasn’t home at the time, the chief said.

It pierced the ceiling and was later found in an attic beam by the Bergen County Sheriff’s ballistics team, he said.

The shop owner told police he was confronted by both men in his driveway late Friday. The robbers took off empty-handed after the shot rang out, Fox said.

The chief said a third suspect, 18-year-old Nicole L. Gorter of North Haledon ( above ), was the getaway driver.

Gorter, who attended Eastern Christian High School in town, worked at the pizzeria as a waitress.

She was being held on $100,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail. So were two men charged with the actual holdup: Jose N. Hidalgo, 27 (top, left) and Luis A. Diaz, 21 ( right ).

All three were caught on Cedar Hill Avenue in Midland Park after Sgt. Noah VanVliet pulled over the getaway car and found them carrying marijuana about 15 minutes later.

Within minutes, Midland Park police got word of the aborted holdup.

“It’s extremely fortunate that there was no death or serious bodily injury as the result of this careless act during a violent crime,” Fox said. “Anyone in that room at the time could have been a victim.”

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