Saheru El and Tonia Underwood (Photos: Ocean County Jail)
Saheru El and Tonia Underwood (Photos: Ocean County Jail)

A Toms River man was held at knifepoint as two suspects tried to steal a car he was selling, police said, describing a violent incident in which the victim managed to get away and run for help before the suspects were later caught.

Police spokeswoman Jillian Messina said the incident played out Tuesday as the victim, a man who was selling a 2003 Honda Civic, was on a test drive with two people he believed the be buyers at about 8:50 p.m.

According to police, the man said had just met with two people – one man and one woman – who were interested in purchasing the vehicle, and the three of them took the car for a test drive. After both suspects drove the vehicle, they stopped at the intersection of Weston Drive and Ashford Road when the male suspect, who was sitting in the rear passenger seat behind the victim, grabbed the victim around the neck, placed a knife to his neck and stated “we’re taking this” repeatedly, police said.


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The victim was able to escape from the man’s grasp, grab his cellular phone, and exit the vehicle, a statement said. He then ran to the nearest house and received help from the resident as the suspects fled the area.

A full description of the vehicle and suspects was sent to law enforcement agencies through police channels, and less than two hours later the vehicle was located by Lakewood police officers. As a result of the investigation Saheru El, 23, whose last known address was in Asbury Park, and Tonia Underwood, 18 of Lakewood, were placed under arrest without further incident.

According to police, El was in possession of several knives at the time of his arrest. He was charged with first degree carjacking and Underwood was charged with first degree conspiracy to commit carjacking.