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Cross-dressing burglary suspect charged with trying to kill NJ cop (LISTEN)

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BUTLER — A career criminal from Morris County is facing serious first-degree attempted murder charges after he was accused of pointing a rifle at a police officer who was investigating a report of a suspicious man dressed as an old lady.

Dylan Howard, who also goes by the last name Hannah, did not fire at officers — but an officer did shoot him four times, landing Howard in the hospital and in jail last year.

In addition to the charge of attempting to kill a police officer, a grand jury this week handed up indictments on a long list of fresh charges against Howard, 24, whose criminal record includes previous arrests for aggravated assault on an officer and resisting arrest, as well as jail time for burglary and weapons charges.

The officer shot Howard in a Belleview Avenue home on March 31, 2016. The home belonged to Howard’s grandmother.

Police were dispatched to the scene after a neighbor reported seeing someone “dressed like an old lady with a cane, but it was a guy.”

The police shooting capped a month-long crime spree by Howard and three cohorts, who had spent previous weeks stealing from the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in the borough, prosecutors said Friday.

Howard was charged with fourth-degree shoplifting on March 11, 22 and 29; fourth-degree conspiracy to shoplift from the store on March 8, 9, 11 and 12; and fourth-degree theft by deception from Lowe’s on March 22.

He also was charged with third-degree burglary and third and fourth-degree theft by breaking into a car and home on the night he was shot; second-degree possession of a rifle for an unlawful purpose; third-degree aggravated assault by pointing the rifle at a cop; and second-degree certain persons not to have weapons.

Co-defendant Michael Nelson was charged with fourth-degree conspiracy to shoplift from Lowe’s on March 8 and 9, and fourth-degree theft by deception from Lowe’s.

Co-defendant David King was indicted on charges of fourth-degree conspiracy to shoplift on March 29, theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Co-defendant Joseph Connell pleaded guilty in August and was sentenced to five years probation on charges that he conspired with Howard on March 11 and 22.

In an interview with News 12 last year, Howard’s mother said he was at his grandparents’ house and was trying to climb out of a window when he was shot.

New Jersey 101.5 last year reported that he had been sentenced in 2015 to two years and six months of probation on a third-degree burglary charge and spent 137 days in jail for an incident in which he tried to break into a home while two teenage girls were inside.

Borough police arrested him days later but not without a struggle. Police said he locked himself in a bathroom, then climbed out the window. A neighbor found him hiding in the snow, police said.

In 2012 he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose and was sentenced to three years in prison in a plea deal that dismissed charges of aggravated assault on an officer, resisting arrest, hindering apprehension, aggravated assault by pointing a firearm at someone, burglary and theft.

Howard is being held at the Morris County Correctional Facility with bail set at $190,000 as he awaits trial.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5.

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