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UPDATE: Alleged Shoplifter Killed in Springfield Crash Identified as Newark Man

Union Township (Union) Springfield Township (Union) Newark

Authorities have released the identified the suspected shoplifted killed in a crash in Springfield as a 46-year-old Newark man.

According to police, at approximately 3:55 p.m. on November 19th, a store manager at the Target on Springfield Avenue in the Vauxhall section of Union Township alerted two uniformed Union Township Police Department officers working an off-duty assignment there that a man - later identified as Johnny Mitchell - appeared to be attempting to shoplift several hundred dollars’ worth of over-the-counter medicine, according to the preliminary investigation being led by the Prosecutor’s Office.

When the officers approached Mitchell and attempted to arrest him in the store’s parking lot, Mitchell attempted to assault one of them by trying to bite him, then entered a parked Jaguar sedan and sped away, the investigation indicated.

After leading police on a brief pursuit into neighboring Springfield, the suspect failed to negotiate a turn, lost control of his vehicle, and crashed into a multi-story commercial building on Springfield Avenue. The overturned vehicle subsequently caught fire, and three police officers who arrived at the scene tried unsuccessfully to rescue the trapped driver.

Those three officers were transported to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston for treatment for smoke inhalation, and the suspect driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was later determined that the Jaguar he had been driving had been reported stolen out of Irvington approximately one week prior.