The Somerset Messenger-Gazette by Warren Cooper - October 20, 2011
RARITAN, NJ — Two more arrests have been made in connection with the armed robbery and assault of a 17-year-old girl here on Sunday, Oct. 16. One of those arrested is an Irvington policeman. Police officer Herne LaCoste, 40, of Plainfield, and Markessa Coleman, 18, of Irvington were arrested following the investigation of the robbery that occurred in the parking lot of Ortho McNeil Pharmaceuticals on Route 202/206, according to the Somerset Prosecutor's Office. Shanikah Daniels, 18, of East Orange had previously been arrested in the case. The Prosecutor's Office gave the following account. At about 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 16, borough police received a report that Daniels had robbed at gun point a 17-year-old girl while she was seated inside a gray SUV with a damaged bumper. Daniels then forced the girl out of the SUV and, along with Coleman, physically assaulted the girl while LaCoste watched. LaCoste then drove the two women from the scene in the SUV. They took with them the girl's possessions, a cell phone, a bus ticket and a metro card. After the girl was treated at Somerset Medical Center for minor injuries, investigation by borough police and detectives from the Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit led them to Daniel’s apartment building in East Orange. The gray SUV was found nearby. After obtaining search warrants, detectives located Daniels, LaCoste and the victim’s property in the apartment and a .38 caliber hand gun inside the SUV. Detectives found Coleman on Tuesday, Oct. 18. She was charged with aggravated assault and released. LaCoste was arrested the same day and charged with official misconduct, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. He was brought to the county jail with bail set at $20,000. As of today, Oct. 20, LaCoste had made bail arrangements and had been released. Daniels remains in jail, charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, possession of a handgun without a permit and possession of a firearm with the intent to use it against another person. Reach Warren Cooper at email@example.com or 908-948-1261.