Governor Murphy Orders Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of 50th Anniversary of Passing of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster

May 1, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–At the annual Survivors of the Triangle Memorial Ceremony, Governor Murphy, Colonel Pat Callahan, and the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) today honored over 70 members of the NJSP who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, including State Trooper Werner Foerster. In observance of the 50th anniversary of State Trooper Foerster’s passing, Governor Murphy ordered that U.S. and New Jersey flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, which marks 50 years since Trooper Foerster was killed in the line of duty on May 2, 1973.

“As veteran of the Vietnam War and a State Trooper, Werner Foerster served our state and our country with honorable devotion, remarkable courage, exceptional professionalism, loyalty, and commitment to the finest ideals and traditions of the United States Army and the New Jersey State Police,” said Governor Murphy. “On the 50th anniversary of his passing, we remember Trooper Foerster for his service and sacrifice as he dedicated his life to protecting our nation’s freedoms and keeping our communities safe. Fifty years later, we continue to mourn this tragic and untimely loss, and extend our sincere sympathy to his family, friends, and fellow members of the New Jersey State Police.  In his honor and memory, and as a reminder of our continued quest to ensure justice for his murder, I am directing our flags to fly at half-staff tomorrow.” 

May 2, 1973

Trooper Werner Foerster #2608

Werner Foerster was born on August 19, 1938, in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany. He was a high school graduate and a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in the U.S. Army from December 8, 1963until December 8, 1965. He was also a member of the Deutscher Club of Clark, NJ. He resided in Old Bridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey.

Prior to his enlistment in the New Jersey State Police, Trooper Foerster was employed by Ross Engineering in New Brunswick, New Jersey as a welder.

Trooper Foerster joined the New Jersey State Police as a member of the 82nd State Police Class on July 24, 1970. During his short career, he was stationed at the Toms River, Colts Neck, Fort Dix and Key Port Stations. His last assignment, beginning on November 13, 1972, was at Troop “D” Headquarters in New Brunswick. His service with the Division was characterized by loyalty, fearless performance of duty and faithful and honorable devotion to the principals of the New Jersey State Police.

The death of Trooper Foerster was a result of gunshot wounds sustained in the performance of his duty.

At 12:45 a.m. on May 2, 1973, Trooper James M. Harper stopped a Vermont registered vehicle approximately 200 yards south of the New Brunswick Station. Trooper Foerster, patrolling nearby, backed-up Trooper Harper.

Trooper Harper approached the vehicle and asked the driver for his driver’s license and registration. Noting a discrepancy in the registration, the driver was asked to exit the vehicle. The driver was then questioned by Trooper Foerster as Trooper Harper went to question the other occupants.

Shots were fired from within the vehicle at the troopers and there was an exchange of gunfire. In the exchange, Trooper Harper was wounded in the left shoulder and arm. Trooper Foerster was later found near his patrol car, deceased. He died from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest sometime between 12:30 a.m and 1:30 a.m.

Trooper Foerster served 2 years and 10 months with the New Jersey State Police.

Trooper Foerster was survived by his wife and a 3 year-old son. He was 34 years old.

Trooper Werner Foerster #2608

Governor Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, Attorney General Matthew Platkin, First Assistant Attorney General Lindsay Ruotolo, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick, NJSP Chief Chaplain John Taylor, Lt. Colonel Jeanne Hengemuhle, and Survivors of the Triangle President Michelle Carrol join troopers and family members of who lost loved ones in the line of duty at the Survivors of the Triangle Ceremony at Division Headquarters in West Trenton, N.J. on Monday, May 1, 2023. (Photos by: New Jersey State Police / Tim Larsen)