New Jersey Port Authority officer in critical condition after being hit by car. Police asking for prayers.

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JERSEY CITY, NJ – A Port Authority police officer is in critical condition after they were struck by a vehicle while tending to a roadside accident on Route 139. While the investigation into the scene is ongoing, here are the latest details.

Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez stated that Port Authority and Jersey City police officers were working the site of an overturned vehicle that held a 32-year-old woman at around 12:30 a.m. on April 28th.  

While officers from both departments were securing the scene of the initial crash and helping direct traffic, another driver that was headed east on Route 139 collided with the median in the road.

The driver, only identified as a 27-year-old New York woman, subsequently struck a JCPD cruiser, which then wound up hitting a Port Authority police officer.

The collision resulted in the officer being transported to the Jersey City Medical Center in critical condition, while two officers from the JCPD sustained minor injuries.

Superintendent Edward Cetnar from the PAPD stated the following about the injured officer:

“We are asking everyone to keep our officer in your thoughts and prayers as he works to pull through this. These are serious injuries, but we know he is a fighter.”

The 27-year-old driver was examined at the hospital, but was later released. Police have not brought forth any charges against the driver at this time. Prosecutor Suarez stated that instances like these paint the reality that every police interaction and endeavor can be extremely dangerous:

“This crash is yet another reminder that our first responders put their lives on the line every day. We are praying that the officer makes a full and quick recovery.”

Officials have not yet released the identities of any of the officers that were injured at this time, as this is a developing investigation.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

In other news regarding New Jersey, a recent investigation involving an officer shot has led to a suspect arrested and charged with attempted murder. 

A five-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police was shot by a suspect while he was investigating a home invasion robbery on April 25th. Authorities have a suspect in custody, and also noted that the trooper is expected to fully recover from the incident.

Officials say that Detective Richard Hershey was investigating a reported home invasion that took place at the Harding Woods mobile home park in Pittsgrove Township at approximately 10:30 p.m. on April 26th when he was shot by 21-year-old Najzeir J. Hutchings.

Detective Hershey was reportedly in plain clothes with an unmarked car, investigating a report of five women who had forced their way into a home and assaulted another woman and stole her phone earlier in the evening.

According to Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, a “caravan” of five cars then pulled up at the residence that Detective Hershey was actively investigating. The occupants of the vehicles then exited the cars, and confronted the detective. Detective Hershey notified the group that he was law enforcement, and at some point thereafter, Hutchings allegedly shot the trooper in the leg.

Detective Hershey was able to return fire at the suspect, and a woman who happened to be present at the time was struck in the leg. Police have not determined whether the detective’s gunfire or the suspect’s was responsible for the woman’s injury at this time. Authorities also stated that there was no body camera footage obtained in the exchange.

Detective Hershey was later transported over to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, where he’s currently in stable condition.

As for Hutchings, he’s been charged with first-degree attempted murder, aggravated assault on a police officer, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Two other individuals present during the exchange were also arrested.

Those two suspects were identified as 19-year-old Kareen Warner Jr. and 18-year-old Colby Opperman. However, those two suspects are only being charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon.

The three suspects in custody relating to the shooting of Detective Hershey are now sitting in the Salem County Correctional Facility.

Salem County Prosecutor John Lenahan commented on the disturbing case of flagrant violence directed toward the law enforcement community:

“This shocking attack on a member of the State Police who was working with us on an investigation demonstrates what our officers risk every day to protect us.”

https://twitter.com/NJSP/status/1255183490229981189

AG Grewal believes that the five women who were allegedly responsible for the home invasion that led to Detective Hershey investigating the scene played a role in the five vehicles arriving that evening:

“We allege that [the home invasion suspects] were not satisfied with what had transpired earlier and that they went there to exact even more harm on the residents there, perhaps.”

The five home invasion suspects were also located and arrested. With regard to Detective Hershey being shot, AG Grewal described the alleged gunman as “cowardly” and that there will be zero tolerance of mobs intimidating law enforcement:

“We have zero tolerance for a hostile mob that threatens a law enforcement officer performing his duties. We have zero tolerance for those that attack a law enforcement officer. And we have zero tolerance for a cowardly gunman that targets a detective in a drive-by shooting in the middle of the night in the midst of a pandemic.”

State Police Col. Patrick Callahan stated that he’s been in contact with the detective daily since his injury:

“We will have him and his family in our prayers as he moves forward through his recovery. I’ve talked to him every day since and will continue to do so. He knows that he is surrounded by a thoughtful group of men and women, not only in the State Police, but around the country that are pulling for him and his recovery.”

Col. Callahan explained that while there’s going to be a little time needed for Detective Hershey to be back on his feet, he was pleased to see the detective’s optimism throughout all this:

“He’s got a little bit of a road ahead of him. I think he might be in Cooper for another week or so, but his spirits are phenomenally high and we do expect a full recovery.”

We at Law Enforcement Today are pleased to see that Detective Hershey is doing well, despite being shot while on duty. It just goes to show that in the world of law enforcement, a life or death situation can crop up at any time. 

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