A series of just-released 911 calls chronicle the stress, confusion, and fear in a South Jersey neighborhood that followed the shooting of a New Jersey State Police trooper on April 25.
One neighbor was in tears as she sheltered on the floor of her home.
Another call came from the trooper himself.
“My name’s Rick Hershey. I’m a trooper. I’ve been shot,” the detective tells a dispatcher. He patiently provides information, but the urgency in his voice is clear.
He was struck in the leg and the wound was bad enough that he required surgery and a lengthy hospital stay.
“Please hurry,” Hershey says to the dispatcher. He groans in pain at one point during the call.
He explains he was by himself and interviewing a witness when he was shot and that the shooter left the area.
As help arrived for Hershey that night, investigators were already on the trail of those responsible.
What has been described by authorities as a hostile mob descended on Hershey around 10:30 p.m. as he was investigating a home invasion that occurred hours earlier at the park in which a woman was beaten and robbed.
The incident allegedly stemmed from derogatory comments the victim made about the family of one of those involved in the assault, according to police documents. Five women were charged in the home invasion.
A group of about 15 people returned to the scene of the assault to continue the dispute that evening, police allege. They pulled up in a caravan of five vehicles and confronted Hershey, who was driving an unmarked vehicle and wearing plainclothes at the time.
He identified himself to the group and told them to leave, authorities said, and as the cars drove off, some members of the caravan allegedly fired shots at Hershey.
The wounded trooper returned fire. One woman with the caravan suffered a minor leg wound in the exchange of gunfire.
As the bullets flew, neighbors sheltered in their homes. A panicked mother called 911 in tears to report she was hiding with her family. She said she thought some of the shots struck her home and wasn’t sure if her kids are injured.
“We’re all on the floor,” she said. “Something came through my house, I believe.”
“Nobody was hit or shot or anything were they?” the dispatcher asked as she tries to keep the woman calm.
“I don’t know,” the caller sobbed. The dispatcher asked her to call out to her children, which she did. No one was injured.
In another call, a resident who sounded out of breath told a dispatcher that someone was shot.
“My husband just told me that somebody’s shot up at the office. … There was a ton of gunfire,” she said, adding that members of the community watch were helping the victim.
Three people were ultimately charged in the trooper’s shooting, while 18 have been charged overall in connection with the investigation, which included the home invasion.
Najzeir J. “Naz” Hutchings, 21, Tremaine M. Hadden, 27, and Kareen “Kai” Warner Jr., 19, all of Bridgeton, were each charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault on a police officer and weapons offenses. They remain jailed pending trial.
Ten others in the caravan were charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and rioting.
Hershey, who was hospitalized for about two weeks, continues to recover, a New Jersey State Police spokesman confirmed last week. No date has been set for his return to duty.
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