The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of a shooting yesterday afternoon in Princeton in which police fatally shot a man who entered a restaurant with a gun, leading to a lengthy standoff with officers.
According to the preliminary investigation, the incident began shortly after 10 a.m. yesterday when the armed man entered Panera Bread on Nassau Street, across from the Princeton University campus. Customers and employees were able to flee the building, and police secured the perimeter of the restaurant.
The standoff between police and the armed man in the restaurant continued for several hours, during which negotiators attempted unsuccessfully to get the suspect to surrender peacefully. The standoff ended shortly before 3 p.m. when the suspect was fatally shot by police.
Officers said the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
The deceased man has been identified as Scott Mielentz, 56, who formerly lived in Newtown, Pa., and most recently resided in Lawrenceville, N.J.
In New Jersey, all investigations into police deadly force incidents are governed by the Attorney General's Independent Prosecutor Directive – issued in 2006 and strengthened in 2015 – which establishes strict procedures for conducting the investigations and requires the Attorney General to review all such investigations, and in some cases conduct them as well.
The directive provides that unless the undisputed facts indicate that the use of force was justified under the law, the circumstances of the incident must ultimately be presented to a grand jury, composed of 23 civilians, for its independent review.