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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
May 23, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director
New Jersey State Police

- Joseph R. Fuentes, Superintendent


Gary Myerovich


Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team Investigates E. Orange Shooting Incident

E. Orange - The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a shooting incident that occurred in East Orange, Essex County, at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Sat., May 21, 2005.

According to the preliminary investigation, E. Orange Police Officers received a report of a stolen 2004 blue Suburu in the early morning hours of Sat., May 21. At approximately 4:40 a.m., an E. Orange Sgt. located the stolen vehicle at Central and S. Clinton Avenue in E. Orange. The suspect driver of the stolen vehicle pointed what appeared to be a handgun at the E. Orange Sgt. The vehicle fled the area. The stolen vehicle was next sighted at approximately 10:20 a.m. by an off-duty E. Orange Police Officer in the vicinity of Halstead and Rhode Island Avenues, E. Orange. The off-duty officer contacted E. Orange dispatch and reported the location of the stolen vehicle. The stolen vehicle again fled. The stolen vehicle was next sighted shortly before 1:00 p.m. in E. Orange. The stolen vehicle fled, with E. Orange police officers in pursuit. The suspect driver of the stolen vehicle drove through various local streets, entering the Garden State Parkway. The stolen vehicle was pursued from the Parkway to I-280, into Newark, and back to E. Orange. East Orange police broadcast an alert to all area police, including the State Police Emergency Network (SPEN). The driver of the stolen vehicle led pursuing E. Orange police officers, now assisted by state troopers, onto Central Avenue and then onto Sanford Avenue in downtown E. Orange. At this point, it is reported that the stolen vehicle crashed into a fence, backed-up, and then accelerated toward the police officers who had exited their vehicles and were ordering the driver out of the stolen vehicle. The driver of the stolen vehicle ignored police orders. The officers fired at the suspect. The stolen vehicle then crashed into the front porch of a residence located at 64 Sanford.

The driver of the stolen vehicle was wounded, placed under arrest, and taken to University Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening wounds. The identification of the driver of the stolen vehicle remains pending. The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team and the E. Orange Police Department, in conjunction with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, will be filing criminal charges. The E. Orange officers and the New Jersey State Troopers were also treated and released from University Hospital.

The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team has identified the responding E. Orange police officers as Sgt. Keith Benson and Officer Larry Flanagan. The State Troopers are identified as Trooper Matthew Bergen and Trooper Christopher Muscianesi.

The incident remains under investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team comprised of the New Jersey State Police Major Crimes Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice. Under an Attorney General directive, the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team, made up of Deputy Attorney’s General and state investigators from the Division of Criminal Justice and detectives from the State Police Major Crime Unit, are dispatched to the scene of a police shooting to conduct the investigation. The E. Orange Police Department is participating in the ongoing investigation.

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