- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2016

A New Jersey homeowner is in critical condition after he was shot multiple times by state police responding to the wrong address Friday night.

Police dispatchers received a 911 call from a cellphone in Cumberland County at about 11:30 p.m., but the caller hung up without providing a location. The call appeared to have come from a house on Centerton Road, and two uniformed state troopers responded to what was later determined to be an incorrect address, authorities said in a statement Saturday, NJ.com reported.

The troopers knocked on the door, but the homeowners, 76-year-old Gerald Sykes and his 80-year-old wife, didn’t answer, authorities said. The troopers then moved to the back of the home and knocked on a sliding glass door, shining flashlights into the home and announcing that they were responding to a 911 call, according to the attorney general’s office.

According to longtime family friend and attorney Rich Kaser, Mr. Sykes and his wife were asleep when the troopers arrived. Mr. Sykes “felt intruders were trying to get in and he was yelling to his wife to call 911,” Mr. Kaser told NJ.com. The 76-year-old then approached the back door with his shotgun, Mr. Kaser said.

There was an exchange of gunfire through the sliding glass door, in which one of the troopers fired four rounds from his 9 mm handgun and Mr. Sykes fired a single round from his shotgun, NJ.com reported. Mr. Sykes was struck by multiple rounds, according to the attorney general’s office.

Asked who fired first, a spokesman for the attorney general said it’s part of the ongoing investigation, NJ.com reported. 

Mr. Sykes’ attorney said his client was hit three times, once in the chest, before firing off his shotgun. He said Mr. Sykes was then ordered to come out of the house with the aid of his wife, and was ordered to lay face-down on the ground to be handcuffed.

Mr. Sykes and his wife and their daughter, who was not at the home but apparently had been called by her parents, all called 911 seeking help, NJ.com reported.

Mr. Sykes was airlifted to Cooper University Hospital where he was reported to be in critical, but stable condition, according to the attorney general’s office.

Mr. Kaser said Mr. Sykes also had to have his spleen removed and suffered cuts on his face from the shattered glass doors, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Mr. Kaser said the family was considering a lawsuit.

Mr. Sykes “did what any person would do” upon learning of potential intruders, Mr. Kaser said. “Somebody [else], it appears, overreacted.”

One of the troopers suffered a graze wound during the exchange of gunfire and was treated and released from Inspira Medical Center Vineland, authorities said.

No charges are reported to have been filed in the case, which is being investigated by the attorney general’s Shooting Response Team, NJ.com reported.

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