Police say a Vineland man who put a gun to the head of a police officer in Pennsylvania and pulled the trigger was arrested two days earlier in North Wildwood on a stolen vehicle charge.

The North Wildwood Police Department says at about noon Monday, they responded to the area of 500 W. 26th Avenue regarding a suspicious occupied vehicle. Cops found the vehicle but it was empty; they say it was reported to be stolen out of Vineland earlier that morning.

A press release says,

Several homeowners along the 500 W. Block of 26th Avenue gave a description of the accused and stated he recently left the area on foot prior to police arrival. Shortly after, officers observed the accused, later to be identified as Reynaldo Figueroa-Ardon, walking west along the 300 W. block of 26th Avenue. Further investigation revealed Figueroa-Ardon had the keys to the stolen vehicle and had been in possession of it.

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20-year-old Reynaldo Figueroa-Ardon of Vineland was arrested and charged with third-degree receiving stolen property.

While Figueroa-Ardon was being booked in North Wildwood, New Jersey State Troopers took custody of him for an incident that took place in their jurisdiction the same day.

Then on Wednesday, according to a press release by the Montgomery County, PA, District Attorney's Office, Whitemarsh Twp., PA, Police arrested Figueroa-Ardon for Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer and related charges after he put a gun to a cop's head and pulled the trigger.

In that incident,

On Wednesday morning, March 10, 2021, at approximately 8:00 a.m., a Whitemarsh Township police officer responded to Mulberry Lane in the Lafayette Hill section of Whitemarsh Township for a report of a male in an orange and green hoodie walking down the street, checking vehicle door handles to see if they were unlocked. When the officer pulled his police vehicle onto Mulberry Lane, he saw the male suspect in the hoodie and noticed he immediately started walking away from the officer. The officer quickly exited his vehicle, told the male to stop multiple times, but he refused. The officer jogged to the suspect, grabbed his arm and asked what he was doing in the area. At that point, the defendant, Figueroa-Ardo, pulled out a gun and pointed it at the officer’s head. The officer heard at least three clicks, but no shots were fired. The officer wrestled with the defendant, attempting to disarm him, and they both went to the ground. The officer was able to gain control of the defendant but was unable to handcuff him until additional police officers arrived, and Figueroa-Ardon was taken into custody.

A Sig-Sauer handgun was recovered. Detectives determined that the gun was stolen overnight from a parked vehicle in Worcester Township in western Montgomery County, and the owner had reported the gun stolen. When recovered by police, the handgun had bullets in the magazine but no bullet in the chamber and thus did not fire when Figueroa-Ardon pulled the trigger.

Ironically, the officer in question, Officer Matthew Stadulis in Whitemarsh Township, started his career with the North Wildwood Police Department as a Class II officer in 2006 and 2007 before being hired in Pennsylvania.

In addition to the charge in North Wildwood, Figueroa-Ardon was charged with felony charges of Attempted Criminal Homicide of a Law Enforcement Officer, Attempted Aggravated Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer, Receiving Stolen Property, Attempting to Disarm a Law Enforcement Officer, Possession of a Firearm Prohibited, Firearm Not to Be Carried Without a License and misdemeanor charges. He was arraigned by a judge who set bail at $3.5 million cash. Unable to post bail, he's being held in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a statement, "For a police officer, even a routine call can turn deadly in moments. All of us in law enforcement are feeling very blessed right now that the defendant wasn’t able to rack a bullet into the chamber of the stolen gun before he pulled the trigger. Thankfully, the police officer went home to his family after this very dangerous
incident."

Figueroa-Ardon is set to appear in court again on March 24th.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Figueroa-Ardon is not allowed to possess a weapon because he came to America illegally from El Salvador. He possesses a certificate of residency under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy and therefore cannot be removed from the country.

 

SOURCE: North Wildwood Police Department press release, 03/12/21

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