An off-duty New Jersey state trooper fired shots at a car with three young men inside as they were trying to drive away from his house after knocking on his door by mistake at night while looking for the house of a friend who lives next door…
The trooper told investigators he suspected the three men were trying to enter his Sparta home, 50 miles northwest of New York City, between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. Sunday, according to the attorney general’s office.
Jesse Barkhorn, 18, who was in the car that night, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that they attended a party earlier and were dropping off one of them at a friend’s house. He said they mistakenly knocked on the door at the house next to their friend’s house. He said they heard a man screaming from inside and they ran back to the car.
They turned around in the cul-de-sac where the home is located and saw the man standing with his weapon pointed at them, Barkhorn said.
“At this point we’re freaking out, ‘It’s a gun. It’s a gun,'” Barkhorn said. “I was like ‘Dude, get out of here.'”
He said the driver accelerated and the man then fired at them. One of the bullets struck the car’s front tire and the driver stopped the car a short distance away.
According to officials, who didn’t release the names of those involved, two 18-year-olds and a 19-year-old went to the wrong house, knocked on the door and fled after a verbal exchange. They got in their car and drove away and the trooper fired three shots with his personal weapon when the car did not stop…
Barkhorn told the AP that after they stopped the car, one of the men fled. He was found by officers hours later.
Barkhorn said all three were taken to the Sparta police department then to state police barracks in Netcong. He said he remained in custody for more than nine hours before being released without being charged.
“It was traumatic. I really have never been in a situation like that,” Barkhorn said. “You don’t really appreciate things until you have a gun pointed at your head. It was really scary.”
Nine hours in state police custody because their cop bubba did the shooting – so it had to be the kids’ fault, right? How long does it take to establish that the cop firing at these kids was the one breaking the law?
Yes, you can be suspicious about someone turning up at your door at 2 in the morning. Maybe even you keep your piece handy if you’re a gun owner. But, if the dudes are obviously hurrying to depart, you needn’t do more than try to get their license number and call it in. You don’t start shooting up the neighborhood.
I’ve been in the same situation – with a young guy showing up at the door who ran out of gas in front of our home. Yes, I had a handgun in my pocket. No need to wave it about or even mention it. And, yes, we hunted up the gas can for our lawnmower and got enough into his car to get him close enough back to civilization to find an all-night gas station and get himself home.
Cripes! Being civilized is really easier than being paranoid.