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Canned Employee Returns With Loaded Gun, Franklin Lakes Police Charge

John Helmke
John Helmke Photo Credit: COURTESY: Franklin Lakes PD

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. -- A Nanuet man fired from a Franklin Lakes nursery returned with a gun and was quickly arrested, authorities said.

John Helmke, 23, was being held on $50,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, on two illegal weapons charges.

The day began around 7:20 a.m. Monday with a report that Helmke had taken a vehicle from Township Nursery -- when, in fact, he was using a truck to return to the shop to retrieve his own car.

Six hours later, officers responded to Old Mill Road after owner Kelly Popek told them Helmke had returned with the gun, Detective Lt. John Bakelaar said. Helmke sustained a head injury in a scuffle with Popek, who wasn't injured.

Police arrested Helmke and seized a fully loaded, unregistered .38-caliber handgun, Bakelaar said.

Wyckoff and Oakland police assisted.

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