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UPDATE: Second Suspects Arrested in Shooting of NJ State Trooper in Pittsgrove

By rlsmetro on
Pittsgrove

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick J. Callahan today announced the arrest of a second man who is alleged to have opened fire on a New Jersey State Trooper on the evening of Saturday, April 25, in Pittsgrove, N.J.

Tremaine M. Hadden, 27, of Bridgeton, N.J., was arrested last night by the New Jersey State Police. He was charged by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability with attempted murder (1st degree), aggravated assault on a police officer (2nd degree), possession of a weapon as a convicted felon (2nd degree), possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (2nd degree), and unlawful possession of a weapon (2nd degree). Hadden is in custody pending a detention hearing.

Hadden allegedly fired a gun at Detective Richard Hershey of the New Jersey State Police at approximately 10:40 p.m. Saturday, April 25, 2020, at the Harding Woods mobile home park on Harding Highway in Pittsgrove. At the time, Detective Hershey was investigating a home invasion that took place at the mobile home park several hours earlier in which a woman was beaten and robbed. Hadden was allegedly part of a group – linked to the assailants in the home invasion – who drove to the location in a caravan of five vehicles.

Several members of the caravan exited their vehicles and confronted Detective Hershey, who identified himself as a law enforcement officer and issued commands in an effort to control the hostile mob. Some members of the caravan were armed with guns, and at least two – Hadden and Najzeir Hutchings, 21, of Bridgeton – allegedly opened fire on Detective Hershey from separate vehicles, wounding him in the upper leg.

Hutchings was arrested Sunday on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault on a police officer, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Two other members of the caravan who allegedly were armed with guns, Kareen "Kai" Warner Jr., 19, and Colby Opperman, 18, both of Bridgeton, N.J., were arrested Sunday and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. Those three men are being held in the Salem County Jail.

“As I made clear earlier this week, this investigation is ongoing and we won’t rest until we’ve arrested everyone responsible for this cowardly ambush of a New Jersey State Trooper,” said Attorney General Grewal.

“By swiftly investigating this shooting and charging those responsible, we are sending a clear message— we will not tolerate lawlessness.

Anyone who threatens our police officers, threatens the safety of all of us. Our police officers have our backs every day, and we need to have their backs too.”

“The announcement of the arrest of Tremaine Hadden for the attempted murder of Detective Richard Hershey falls on what is known to the New Jersey State Police as Survivors Day, a day in which we honor the 75 Troopers who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

“I will be forever grateful that on this Survivors Day, instead of grieving a fallen trooper, I am able to inform the public that we have apprehended a suspect who poses a grave danger to our State Troopers and society.

I commend the State Police detectives and our partners who worked tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice.”

“We will continue to pursue every lead in this brutal attack on a law enforcement officer until all who are responsible are arrested and brought to justice,” said Director Thomas Eicher of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. “Those who are willing to use deadly force against a police officer represent the gravest danger to public safety, and we must ensure that they are put behind bars where they cannot further threaten our officers and our communities.”

Detective Hershey returned fire with his service weapon during the shooting and the suspects fled the scene. Following the shooting, Detective Hershey was transported to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, where he underwent surgery. He is recovering in the hospital and is in stable condition.

One of the members of the caravan, who is not charged in this case, was also injured during the gunfire.

She suffered a wound to her leg, was treated at the hospital, and was later released.

The home invasion took place at approximately 6:15 p.m. on April 25 in the Harding Woods mobile home park. Five women – later identified as Jazmin Valentin, 32, Yomari Lazu, 43, Iramari Lazu, 22, and Mayra Roblero, 52, all of Bridgeton, and Maria Betancourt, 39, of Vineland – allegedly forced entry into the home of a woman who lived in the mobile home park, assaulted her, and stole her iPhone.

The victim suffered a broken rib and lacerated lung. The alleged assailants were arrested on April 26 and charged with first-degree robbery, second-degree aggravated assault, second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, third-degree burglary, and third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary.

They are being held in the Salem County Jail pending detention hearings.

A detention hearing was held yesterday, April 30, for Opperman, who was ordered detained in jail pending trial.

A detention hearing has been scheduled for May 6 for Hutchings. Warner and the five women who are charged in the home invasion are scheduled for detention hearings on May 5. No detention hearing has been scheduled for Hadden at this time.

The home invasion was investigated by the New Jersey State Police and the Salem County Prosecutor’s Office.

The shooting investigation was conducted by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability and the New Jersey State Police, specifically the Major Crime Unit South, Troop “A” Criminal Investigation Office, Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Cold Case Unit of the New Jersey State Police.

Arrests were made by the New Jersey State Police Fugitive and TEAMS Units. Assistance was provided by the U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force, under the direction of U.S. Marshal Juan Mattos, Jr. and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson.

First-degree attempted murder carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, including a period of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed, and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

The charge of possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison without parole.

Second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed or three years, whichever is greater.

Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.