14 Indicted for 2020 Shooting of NJ State Trooper in Salem County
Fourteen people were indicted by a grand jury on Monday in connection to the shooting of a New Jersey State Trooper at a Salem County trailer park in April, 2020.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says 22-year-old Najzeir “Naz” Hutchings, 20-year-old Kareen “Kai” Warner, and 28-year-old Tremaine Hadden, all from Bridgeton, were each indicted on first-degree attempted murder, second-degree aggravated assault, and other charges. Eleven other people were also indicted on a variety of charges.
According to the State,
"...the defendants were part of a five-car caravan that went to the Harding Woods mobile home park in Pittsgrove, Salem County, on the evening of Saturday, April 25, 2020, intending to attack and injure a resident there and damage her home. Members of the caravan were armed with at least two handguns, one knife, and one bottle, and Hutchings, Warner, and Hadden allegedly fired upon [State Police] Detective [Richard] Hershey."
Hershey was at the trailer park investigating an earlier home invasion. While he was there, a group of 15 people arrived; several confronted Hershey, which eventually lead to an exchange of gunfire. Hershey was struck in the leg and seriously wounded. He returned fire and the suspects fled the scene.
Hershey's use of force is part of a separate investigation, per guidelines from Grewal's office.
Grewal said in a statement, "Detective Hershey was courageously responding to a dangerous situation in the midst of the COVID pandemic when he was shot in an ambush. I promised at the outset of this investigation to bring all of those responsible to justice. As I said at the time, we won’t tolerate mob violence and we certainly won’t tolerate an attempt to murder a police officer."
Additional suspects and/or charges are as follows:
- Hutchings, Warner, Hadden, and 19-year-old Colby Opperman of Bridgeton are charged with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (second degree), and Hutchings, Hadden, and Warner are charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (second degree).
- 23-year-old Ashley Acevedo-Diaz of Bridgeton is charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (third degree) and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (fourth degree).
- 23-year-old Melissa Romero of Bridgeton is charged with Conspiracy to Unlawfully Possess a Weapon (second degree).
- Hutchings, Warner, Hadden, Opperman, Acevedo-Diaz, Romero, 32-year-old Shakeem Waters of Bridgeton, 21-year-old Noel Lazu of Bridgeton, 31-year-old Thomas Nieves of Bridgeton, 26-year-old Markese Rogers of Pittsgrove, 23-year-old Chayana Diaz of Bridgeton, 27-year-old Rovell Mcarthur of Vineland, 26-year-old Aisha Mcarthur of Vineland, and 21-year-old Jenislen Quiles of Bridgeton are charged in the indictment with Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Assault (second degree) and Riot (third degree).
Hadden faces an additional charge of Possession of a Weapon by a Convicted Felon (second degree).
23-year-old Imari Lazu of Bridgeton, who was charged previously in this incident, has already pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering (second degree). Under a plea agreement, the state will recommend that she serve three years in state prison.
As for Hershey, he was the recipient of the 2020 Trooper of the Year Award, "for his fearless and courageous actions."
An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.