Decade after holding Jersey City jeweler hostage, Newark man says he's on road to success

By Michaelangelo Conte | The Jersey Journal
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on November 10, 2014

Timothy Adams, of Newark, who was convicted in a 2006 hostage situation on Journal Square in Jersey City, hopes to get his life back on track.


Two years after being released from prison, a man who was on PCP when he held a Jersey City jewelry store owner hostage with a fake hand grenade in September 2005 credited his seven-plus years in prison with helping him turn around his life.

“Prison is less than human -- you know you are there for a crime and you have to do your time, but you feel less than a human being,” said Timothy Adams, 38, of Newark, who was released from prison in August 2012.

Adams now sells telephone accessories, has a vendor’s license and one employee.

“Being in a room, looking at the walls and being up late at night when everything is silent, you can think, be with your thoughts,” said Adams, who lives with his mother and brother now. “There is no nonsense, no chaos, no excuses, no nothing. Before, life was too crazy. Sometimes prison will slow you down in a good way -- make you take stock of what is important.”

Adams had been released from prison earlier in 2005 after serving a 3-year sentence for threatening a stranger during an argument and had a hard time handling his newfound freedom.

"There was so much at once time -- coming home, I had open cases and drugs was another issue," he said.

Adams was smoking marijuana dipped in PCP "because it numbed you and you didn’t think about your problems.”

On Sept. 21, 2005, while high and still on probation, he said he and another man entered a jewelry story on Sip Avenue off Journal Square.

“I wanted to take some jewelry, get some money,” Adams said last week.

He said he found a man and woman inside and he grabbed the man while holding the fake hand grenade he bought in an army surplus store. The other man grabbed the woman, but she managed to run away and found two law enforcement officers who called for help.

“That’s when we started going to the basement,” Adams said. “The owner, he could tell I was kinda high and he kept saying, ‘I can help you. It doesn’t have to end this way.’ I was in and out. At first I believed him, then I didn’t. I thought the CIA was involved. It was crazy.”

There was a huge response by police, including a bomb squad, and Adams said speaking by phone to a negotiator for more than six hours was exhausting. They tried to give him water and threw bottles of it into the store, but “I thought the water was poisoned.”

When the police threatened to release their dogs, “I said that’s enough. They said I threw the grenade at them and they realized it was a dud or something. That’s when police came in. The guy that I faced had a shotgun. I thought ‘Go ahead. Shoot me,’ but the look in his eyes was remorseful and he did not do it.”

While back in prison, Adams took anger management classes and when he was released in 2012 he attended a mental health program four times a week and said it was very helpful to have the support as he transitioned.

He said the technology he saw around him was new to him and he took and interest.

He went to New York and bought children’s gadget and began selling them on the streets in Newark, Jersey City and other places. When The Jersey Journal caught up with him last year he had switched to telephone accessories, but he said yesterday that he was getting a lot of tickets because he had no vendor’s license.

In April he got a license and that allows him to sell his wares at events. After that, he hired an employee so they could cover two events a once and he had someone to cover for him when he had family matters to tend to.

“My goal is to transition to mall kiosks and after that, an actual store and then a franchise within five years or so,” Adams said. “I see the potential for this market is huge. It’s like toys for adults.”

“I’m a different person, and I am always elevating mentally,” Adams said, adding that he was recently asked to speak at the Hudson County jail, but he told the doctor who asked that he was not ready yet. “In prison, I had to man up. I had made a choice and I had to man up about it. I couldn’t make excuses. I have more control now.”

Adams said it’s hard for him to watch some movies because he sometimes has flash backs to the hostage situation. He said he spent a lot of time looking back on that day and “It is shocking.”

He never saw the store owner again but said “I would apologize but sometimes words are not enough.”

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