Search for 3 suspects in deadly Taj Mahal carjacking

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - September 20, 2011

They believe the defendants were out stalking victims at multiple casinos early Sunday morning.

They eventually found their prey at the Taj Mahal just before 8:30 a.m.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Theodore Housel said the victims, Sunil Rattu and his girlfriend Radhu Ghetia, had just left the casino when they were accosted by the suspects before they could enter their vehicle. They were robbed of a small amount of cash and forced at gunpoint to drive out of the casino garage and to a nearby alley, where both were shot.

Atlantic City Police received two 911 calls at 8:26 a.m. and 8:27 a.m. reporting gunshots. They found Ghetia being treated by an off-duty firefighter in the alley, suffering from a graze wound to the neck. Rattu was found dead in the backseat of the vehicle after being shot twice in the head.

"We've been able to ascertain with great confidence who these three individuals are and warrants have been issued for their arrest," Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said.

The three men have been identified as 20-year-old Phillip Byrd, 20-year-old Eric Darden, and 18-year-old Raheem Simmons. All are from Camden.

Housel wouldn't reveal who he believes is the shooter, but all three face murder charges.

Investigators from eight different law enforcement agencies were able to identify the suspects after the trio allegedly tried to rob a dealer at Bally's earlier in the morning.

He fled in his car, but was able to get a license plate number on the suspect vehicle.

Police soon learned it was stolen out of Haddonfield near Camden.

Prosecutors now want the public to look at surveillance video because the defendants remain on the run.

"Do not attempt to engage these individuals, they are armed and highly dangerous," Housel said.

Ghetia of Sayreville remains hospitalized in good condition.

The killing marked the second time since May 2010 that a fatal carjacking began in the Taj Mahal garage. Martin Caballero, 47, of North Bergen, was carjacked last year and later found stabbed to death. Craig Arno, 45, of Atlantic City, and Jessica Kisby, 25, of Egg Harbor Township, are awaiting trial in that case.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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