Belleville man arrested for trying to rob MMS student

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Maplewood Police Department received a call at approximately 8:55 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 18, from Maplewood Middle School reporting a possible robbery involving a student, according to a Dec. 19 press release from the police department.

The victim, a 13-year-old eighth-grader, reported that he was approached by a man in the area of Valley Street and the Crescents, only about a block from the school. The man asked the victim for money and to borrow his cell phone. According to police, when the victim refused, the man threatened to hurt him. The student then fled to MMS and reported the incident to school officials. There were no weapons involved in the incident and the victim was not injured in any way.

Maplewood police officers responded and were able to get a description of the man. A short time later, MPD officers James DeFazio and Sean Gearren saw a man who matched the perpetrator’s description on Prospect Street. The officers stopped the man, Christopher Zapata, 18, of Belleville, who was positively identified as the perpetrator and placed under arrest, according to the press release.

Zapata was charged with attempted robbery. In addition, he was allegedly in possession of several bags of marijuana and was charged with drug possession and possession with intent to distribute. Zapata was subsequently transported to the Essex County Correctional Facility.