Turnpike shooting: NJ troopers confronted man ‘shooting up heroin,’ officials say
New Jersey 101.5 video
CRANBURY — A man who appeared to be shooting up heroin at a New Jersey Turnpike service area was shot dead after officers said he began driving his pickup truck straight at a state trooper.
During an undercover operation at the Molly Pitcher service area on the Turnpike's southbound lanes in Cranbury, police said they noticed the man — later identified as Christopher Angelo Pizzichetta, 46, of Lewes, Delaware — in a pickup truck doing what appeared to be "shooting up" heroin.
After troopers approached his vehicle, Pizzichetta started driving away. As police approached the pickup to block him, Pizzichetta headed for the exit and hit two police vehicles before driving at a trooper who was standing in the path of the vehicle, the state Attorney General's Office said Friday afternoon. That officer fired the shots, officials said.
A syringe and glassines contained suspected heroin were later found in his pickup, officials said.
The Attorney General's Office is tasked with investigating all shootings by State Police.
Below is the full text of the Attorney General's Office preliminary investigation:
Five members of the New Jersey State Police in four unmarked police vehicles were conducting undercover operations targeting narcotics and other criminal activity at the Molly Pitcher Service Area when the shooting occurred shortly before 2:45 p.m. on Thursday. One of the troopers initially spotted Pizzichetta parked in his pickup truck at the north end of the parking area, away from other vehicles. He appeared to be “shooting up” heroin. As troopers moved their unmarked vehicles to park near to Pizzichetta in an effort to observe him, Pizzichetta drove away and parked in a remote area at the south end of the parking area. The troopers then implemented a plan to approach Pizzichetta’s vehicle and prevent it from leaving the service area.
At least three State Police vehicles, including a Chevy Silverado, moved in to block Pizzichetta’s pickup truck, but Pizzichetta attempted to flee. He backed up and struck one police vehicle, an SUV, after which he drove forward and struck the Silverado. The police vehicles, including the Silverado, which had its lights and siren activated, pursued Pizzichetta as he sped toward the exit road of the service area. Rather than driving to the ramp leading to the exit road, Pizzichetta cut across a median where another trooper, who was on foot, was standing. Civilian witnesses said that Pizzichetta sped directly at the trooper, who was wearing a holster and weapon and was clearly identifiable as a police officer. That trooper fired multiple rounds from his service handgun through Pizzichetta’s windshield, striking the upper part of his body. Pizzichetta’s vehicle continued a short distance across the exit road at high speed and crashed into a concrete retaining wall along the far side of the road. Pizzichetta was pronounced dead at the scene. A syringe and empty glassine were found in Pizzichetta’s pickup truck, along with numerous other glassines containing suspected heroin. None of the troopers were injured, but the trooper who fired was taken to the hospital for evaluation, pursuant to standard procedures.
No further details of the shooting are being released at this time due to the ongoing investigation. The shooting is being investigated by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team. Under an Attorney General Directive, the Shooting Response Team, made up of deputy attorneys general, detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice, and detectives of the State Police Homicide Unit, are dispatched to the scene to handle investigations of shootings involving state troopers or officers employed by county prosecutors as detectives/investigators or members of county emergency response teams and task forces.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com