19 People, Most From Bridgeton, Now Charged With Attack on Trooper
Details are being released of a crazy event on Friday, April 25th, where people in a five car caravan showed up to injure a woman, but instead ended up attacking a State Trooper who was on the scene.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick J. Callahan have announced that 10 additional people have been charged in the case, in addition to the nine people who already had been charged.
The events took place in Pittsgrove where, according to authorities, a five car caravan loaded with people showed up at the Harding Woods mobile home park with the intent of attacking a woman who lived there, and destroying her property.
When they arrived, members of the caravan found State Trooper Detective Richard Hershey and attacked him. Authorities say at least two of the people were armed with guns, while others had a knife and a bottle.
“The members of this lawless caravan were armed and bent on violence when they arrived late at night at the mobile home park, and when Detective Hershey prevented them from attacking their intended victim, at least three caravan members allegedly opened fired on him from their vehicles,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The courage of this trooper was met with a cowardly ambush. We promised at the outset of this investigation to charge all of those responsible, and we are fulfilling that promise. We won’t tolerate mob violence and we certainly won’t tolerate an attempt to murder a police officer.”
"We made a promise to our citizens and fellow law enforcement officers that we would apprehend every last member of the cowardly mob that nearly killed Detective Richard Hershey, and I am pleased to announce today that we are making good on that promise,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will not rest until every suspect is brought to justice and held accountable for their actions.”
“We now have charged a total of 19 defendants, including 14 charged as members of the violent caravan that shot Detective Hershey, and five women charged by the Salem County Prosecutor’s Office in the prior home invasion, including one who also was part of the caravan,” said Director Thomas Eicher of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. “Justice and public safety demanded that we identify and arrest all of those responsible for these violent attacks, and we are doing just that. I commend all of the detectives and attorneys who have worked diligently to achieve these results.”
Officials say these people were arrested Friday by State Police, with the exception of Waters, who is being sought on an arrest warrant. All 10 were charged by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault (2nd degree) and rioting (3rd degree).
- Ashley Diaz-Acevedo, 22, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Melissa Romero, 22, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Noel Lazu, 20, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Markese Rogers, 25, of Pittsgrove, N.J.
- Aisha McArthur, 25, of Vineland, N.J.
- Rovell L. McArthur Jr., 26, of Vineland, N.J.
- Jenislen Quiles, 19, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Shakeem Waters, 31, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Thomas Nieves III, 30, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Chayana Diaz, 22, of Bridgeton, N.J.
Authorities say these three men who allegedly fired upon Detective Hershey were previously arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder, second-degree aggravated assault on a police officer, and second-degree weapons offenses:
- Najzeir “Naz” Hutchings, 21, of Bridgeton, N.J.,
- Tremaine M. Hadden, 27, of Bridgeton, N.J., and
- Kareen "Kai" Warner Jr., 19, of Bridgeton, N.J.
"A fourth man, Colby Opperman, 18, of Bridgeton, N.J., was previously arrested and charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. Hutchings, Warner, and Opperman were ordered detained in the Salem County Jail pending trial. Hadden is in custody awaiting a detention hearing.
Warner, Hutchings and Hadden allegedly opened fire on Detective Hershey at approximately 10:40 p.m. Saturday, April 25, 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."
Here are more details on the incident, from the State Attorney General:
While Detective Hershey was conducting the investigation, a hostile mob of 15 people linked to the assailants in the home invasion arrived in a caravan of five vehicles. Some 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 intruders. Hutchings and Warner allegedly fired at Detective Hershey from one vehicle, and Hadden allegedly fired at him from another vehicle.
Detective Hershey was struck in the upper leg and seriously wounded. He returned fire with his service weapon and the suspects fled the scene. Detective Hershey was transported to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, where he underwent surgery. He was released from the hospital this week.
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.
Iramari Lazu allegedly was also a member of the caravan. Iramari Lazu and Yomari Lazu were ordered detained pending trial and the other three women were released with conditions after detention hearings.
SOURCE: State Attorney General's Office.