By Lipika Mudgal A 76-year-old man in Upper Deerfield Township, Cumberland, New Jersey is in critical condition after being shot by the two state troopers responding to the wrong address.
The man, Gerald Sykes, was sleeping in his house in the 300 block of Centerton Road when dispatchers received a 911 call from a residence shortly before 11:30 p.m. on Friday, but the caller hung up without making contact. The call was incorrectly traced by the dispatchers to the home of the elderly Sykes.
Attorney General’s Office said, the location was later determined to be incorrect but at that time, two state troopers were sent from the Bridgeton Station to Sykes’ residence where the call was originally believed to have come from to see if help was needed.
Two uniformed state troopers arrived at the residence shortly before midnight in two different vehicles. The troopers first knocked on the front door and after getting no answer, they approached the rear of the home. Gerald Sykes saw someone approaching his back door and thought it was an intruder, so he retrieved his shotgun and waited inside.
“The shooting occurred after the troopers approached a sliding glass door in the rear of the resident and knocked, shining flashlights into the home and announcing that they were responding to a 911 call,” New Jersey State Police rapid response team stated, according to Daily Journal, a local newspaper.
“At the same time,” the police added, “there was an exchange of gunfire through the sliding glass door in which one of the troopers fired four rounds from his service 9mm handgun and Gerald Sykes fired a single round from a shot. Mr. Sykes, who was struck by multiple rounds, retreated into the house.”
Authorities said Sykes called his daughter, who called 911 to report what happened, so he could leave the house and get medical treatment, reported the Daily Journal.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, he was airlifted to Cooper University Hospital, Camden, where he was reported to be in critical, but stable condition on Saturday. No charges were filed against him. It did not say who fired first.
“Why was the first response to pump four rounds through a door?” said Ronald LaFalce, son-in-law of Sykes, who is really outraged at the police.
“They both stepped into the great room and saw two figures standing right at their French doors, right up against the door. Nothing said. No identification,” said Diana LaFalce.
Diana LaFalce says her stepdad was standing in the living room holding his shotgun when police fired four shots- three of which hit him.
“After he collapsed on the floor, he lifted the gun up and shot out the door not knowing who was there,” said Ronald LaFalce.
One of the troopers suffered a graze wound from either the shotgun or from flying glass from the shotgun blast and was treated and released from Inspira Medical Center Vineland, said authorities.
The names of the troopers involved were not released.
It was not clear whether the response was eventually made to the address from where the 911 call actually came.
The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team, investigating the case includes Deputy Attorney General, detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice, and detectives of the State Police Major Crime Unit.
No further details of the shooting are being released because this is an ongoing investigation, the Attorney General’s Office says.
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