Hazleton Residents Witness Start of Alleged Tri-State Crime Spree

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HAZLETON -- As Luis Figueroa was captured in  Manhattan near the George Washington Bridge, investigators stretching all the way back to Hazleton tried to make sense of a chaotic series of events that included crime scenes in three states.

Police said the Bronx man came to North Church Street in Hazleton where he broke into an apartment and tried to kidnap a pregnant woman.

Hazleton detectives said the woman attempted to stop a passing school bus for help Friday morning. However, the driver of the bus saw Figueroa armed with what appeared to be a shotgun and refused to open the doors.

The owner of the bus company, Jack Martini, would only identify the driver by her first name, which is Wendy, but said her actions were well thought out and she was a valued driver.

A woman who did not wish to be identified told Newswatch 16 that she heard a woman cry for help and looked outside her home near the crime scene.

She said, "I did see something long sticking down under his shirt into his pant legs. That was my first thought, ' It was a gun.' I did see some blood on his shirt, and as he went around the corner, I did see a lot more around there."

Her husband saw the accused man and his other alleged victim leaving the area. He said, at that point, he did not realize how serious the situation was.

The witness said the accused man and his victim appeared to be relatively calm. He said, "She went very willingly. She had her hand out when he came down the sidewalk. They went hand in hand. "

Another neighbor, Norman Tarantino, said that his dog alerted him something was wrong.  He said, "She started growling at the window and the hair stood up on the back of her collar, something I had never seen."

Police said that after leaving Hazleton, Figueroa's next stop was  the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap, where he sexually assaulted the woman.

New Jersey State Police tell Newswatch 16 that even though the woman was bleeding and struggling to stay conscious, she managed to get control of the car and drive to the post office in Columbia, New Jersey.

Police believe Figueroa then carjacked a worker's vehicle and went to Paterson, New Jersey, where his family members owned an automotive business.

Relatives said that they had been involved in a financial dispute with Figueroa involving a business deal.

Detectives said he then assaulted a worker at the automotive business, set a building on fire, and took off in a stolen Cadillac Escalade.

Port Authority police then followed the Escalade to the inbound upper deck of the  George Washington Bridge and set up a blockade using their vehicles. However, that was not enough to stop the 33 year old, who allegedly slammed the cars and escaped on foot before police captured him on a nearby street.

At least a half dozen people were injured  including the women in Hazleton, the worker at the Delaware Water Gap, the worker at the Paterson automotive business, and several Port Authority police officers.

All are expected to recover.

Figueroa remains in the hospital being treated for burns and other injuries. He faces a long list of charges in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.


  • Remee

    Of course she went willingly, he had a SHOTGUN! People only say what benefits them. Those are her NEIGHBORS & they didn’t feel the need to report that they saw their NEIGHBOR walking away with a man oozing blood everywhere. Hazleton natives are so stupid. Mind you, that street is super busy at that time of day and no one felt the need to call the police. I’m moving the hell outta here before some crazy bloodied and cut person drags me out of my home. And on top of that to have my neighbors witness it and think that I’m going for a stroll. F*CK THAT!

  • IS THERE REALLY FREEDOM OF SPEECH ??? If so, read this

    HEY FAST EDDIE ! Why Don’t you and Reverend Al and Rev. Jesse J. go cry the Hypocritical Blues together ? You 3 are likely racists in my opinon ! Unreal !

  • Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie always plays it safe. I would have let the man on the bus if there were empty seats. Hell, maybe all he needed was a hug and a free ride downtown. Fast Eddie is not one to judge by appearance. I was raised proper, ya know.

    • e

      That is nice to hear Fast Eddie, I wish the majority of locals were properly raised as well. One of the biggest problems in NEPA is that the locals make it a priority to judge others by appearance so they can feel better about being mouthy trash. Then they justify their ignorance with some narrow minded attempt at wisdom with “I call em’ like I see em” or some other pathetic statement. Or the typical bs about how their daddy was an alcoholic and was mean to them, they lost a loved one, failed relationship or more common is they never rose above a high school athletics level and blame favortism for not “going pro” as the local phrase it. Boo hoo. My point is this region deserves this kind of negative attention because of the proud NEPA locals and how they treat others. I truly feel for the decent people from New York and New Jersey that have recently moved here to find a better life. They must be incredibly disappointed.

    • Jayme321

      That’s what you got out of this entire story? Are you serious?! There’s not an ounce of racism in this story! It doesn’t matter what color the woman trying to get on to the bus was; if the driver saw a person (regardless of that persons color too!) with a shotgun, it would’ve played out the same way, especially when the potential to harm a bus full of children is there. The driver was protecting the children. And I’m sure it had to eat at her that she wasn’t able to help that woman. Don’t play the race card on this.

    • lisa

      Racism??? Your an idiot. People who pull that card out are the biggest RACIST of all. YOU must be a racist if that was your first concern. Did you even bother to get all the facts before you commented??

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