Category: Tuckerton

Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Releases Findings Of November 21, 2019 Non-Fatal Officer Involved Shooting In Tuckerton

September 9, 2021

TUCKERTON, NJ (OCEAN)–The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office (OCPO) has completed its investigation into the November 21, 2019 use of force by one patrolman of the Tuckerton Police Department and has concluded that the use of force was legally justified. The OCPO determined that it is not necessary to present this matter to the grand jury because there were not material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of the use of force. The investigation was conducted in accordance with the then applicable Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directives (Attorney General Supplemental law Enforcement Directive Regarding Uniform Statewide Procedures and Best Practices for Conducting Police Use of Force Investigations Directive 2006-5 and the Independent Prosecutor Directive 2019-4) (“Directives”). Pursuant to those Directives, the Attorney General’s Office conducted an independent review of the use of force and agreed with OCPO’s determination that there were no material facts in dispute and that the use of force by the officer was justified. The Attorney General’s Office concurred with OCPO’s conclusion to forego presentation of this matter to the Grand Jury.0

The incident occurred on November 21, 2019, at 10:22am in the Borough of Tuckerton. Officer 1 of the Tuckerton Borough Police Department attempted to effectuate a motor vehicle stop of a Black Nissan Altima at Delta Gas Station located at 109 East Main Street. Officer 1 was in uniform and approached the Nissan and advised the driver and front seat passenger, Miguel Angel Villegas, that they were being stopped for obstruction of view and a seatbelt violation.  Officer 1 could not identify a valid motor vehicle license under the name the driver provided and had asked her to exit the vehicle.

The driver exited the vehicle briefly before reentering the Nissan and accelerated out of the gas station heading north on North Green Street. The Nissan then collided with the left side of an unrelated northbound vehicle.  The Nissan came to an uncontrolled rest in the front yard of a residence on the southbound side of the road.  Officer 1 pursued the Nissan and stopped at the scene of the accident.  As he approached the unrelated vehicle on the northbound side of the road to check on the occupant, he observed Villegas and the driver outside their vehicle next to the passenger side of the Nissan on the opposite side of the road. Officer 1 further observed that Villegas had his hands in his waist area and ordered him to show his hands multiple times.  At that point in time, Villegas removed a dark colored handgun from under his clothing, pointed it at Officer 1 and began firing at him.  Officer 1 discharged his weapon in response as he had no other option to protect his life.  Neither Villegas, Officer 1, nor any bystanders were hit in the gunfire.  Villegas fled south on foot towards East Main Street, where he broke into a garage, stole a bicycle and ultimately secured a Lyft ride to North Jersey.  Officer 1 did not have a body worn camera and his vehicle was not equipped with a mobile video recorder (MVR). Surveillance video was recovered from the Delta Gas Station showing the suspect vehicle departing from the initial motor vehicle stop conducted by Officer 1. Additionally, detectives were able to recover video from the Wawa convenience store showing Villegas entering a Lyft car which enabled him to travel to North Jersey.

The driver/victim was interviewed and indicated that Villegas was her boyfriend and that he had ordered her to drive him to New Jersey from Connecticut because he was wanted by police there.  The parties traveled to Tuckerton to get fuel on their trip back home from the Atlantic City area.  Villegas had told her to provide a fake name to Officer 1 during the traffic stop, pointed a handgun at her and told her to drive while pushing her foot on the accelerator pedal.  She recalled being in the accident and being between Villegas and Officer 1 when the gunfire started and that Villegas had the gun shortly before the gunfire started.

There were multiple witnesses who observed the incident. One witness observed the entire exchange between Officer 1 and Villegas.  He confirmed that Officer 1 gave multiple verbal commands to Villegas to show him his hands to which Villegas did not comply. The citizen also observed Villegas pull out a gun and fire upon Officer 1 at which time Officer 1 returned fire. An additional witness stated she did not see the events leading up to the shooting, however, she did see a male matching the description of Villegas shooting in the direction of a police officer at the scene of the accident. A third witness observed the collision between the suspect vehicle and a third party vehicle. She observed Officer 1 order a male matching the description of Villegas to the ground with negative results. She also observed Villegas brandish a firearm and fire it toward the third party vehicle, which was in the direction of Officer 1. It was at that time she was pulled behind a vehicle by Officer 1 for protection and Officer 1 returned fire. A fourth witness observed a male matching the description of Villegas standing next to his vehicle shooting across the street in the direction of a police officer. All four of these witness accounts corroborate the timeline of events as described by Officer 1.

After a joint effort by local, county, state and federal partners, Villegas was located in New York City hours later.

Ballistic reports indicate that a total of twenty-three shots in total were fired off and accounted for during the shooting. Two of those shots were reportedly from a 9mm handgun, matching the description of the weapon in Villegas’ possession. Twenty-one shots were fired from a 40 caliber weapon, matching that of Officer 1.

Villegas was charged with Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, and Possession of Handgun for an Unlawful Purpose and Possession of Handgun without a Permit. He waived extradition to New Jersey.  On February 4, 2020, Villegas was indicted on the Attempted Murder of Officer 1, Kidnapping, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Hindering Apprehension, and Aggravated Assault by Auto, Eluding, and Aggravated Assault of a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest, Burglary, and Certain Person Not to Possess a Firearm. 

On August 13, 2021, Villegas pled guilty to first degree Attempted Murder and third degree Hindering Apprehension. At the time of sentencing, the State is seeking 15 years New Jersey State’s Prison on the Attempted Murder charge, subject to the No Early Release Act, concurrent to a 5 year flat term on the Hindering Apprehension charge. He is to be sentenced before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C. on September 27, 2021.

The Office of the Attorney General and Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer are satisfied that the undisputed facts establish that Tuckerton Patrolman used the appropriate force necessary to protect his life and that of innocent bystanders and that he was legally justified in doing so. 


Related MidJersey.News story here:

New Haven, CT Man Pleads Guilty For Attempted Murder And Hindering Apprehension After Shooting At Police Officer In Tuckerton Borough In 2019



New Haven, CT Man Pleads Guilty For Attempted Murder And Hindering Apprehension After Shooting At Police Officer In Tuckerton Borough In 2019

August 13, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on August 13, 2021, Miguel Angel-Villegas, 31, of New Haven, Connecticut, pled guilty to Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), as well as Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3b(4), before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., relative to a shooting incident that occurred in Tuckerton on November 21, 2019.  At the time of his sentencing on September 27, 2021, the State will recommend a term of fifteen years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) as to the Attempted Murder charge, subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, and five years NJSP as to the Hindering charge.  The sentences are to run concurrently.

On November 21, 2019, a Tuckerton Borough Police Officer performed a lawful stop on a motor vehicle in which Angel-Villegas was a passenger.  During the course of the stop, the vehicle pulled away at a very high rate of speed and collided with another vehicle.  Angel-Villegas exited the vehicle, pulled out a firearm and began firing at the Officer.  Angel-Villegas subsequently fled on foot and was apprehended later the same evening by the United States Marshals Service and members of the New York City Police Department – just outside of Penn Station, New York City.  A subsequent investigation by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit revealed that Angel-Villegas ordered his then-girlfriend – the driver of the vehicle – to provide the Tuckerton Police Officer with a fictitious name due to his belief that he was wanted on a parole violation out of the State of Connecticut, and then forced her to speed away from the Officer during the motor vehicle stop.  

Villegas has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his return to New Jersey.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Chief Trial Attorney Michael Weatherstone and Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Veni who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, United States Marshals Service, New York City Police Department, Tuckerton Borough Police Department, Little Egg Harbor Police Department, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center, New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit, New Jersey Transit Police, Ocean County Regional SWAT Team, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, New Haven (Connecticut) Police, Port Authority Police, Tuckerton Fire Department, and Tuckerton Public Works Department, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, ultimately resulting in Villegas’ apprehension, guilty plea, and soon his state prison sentence.




2.4 Earthquake Hits Tuckerton, New Jersey

June 9, 2021

TUCKERTON, NJ (OCEAN)–The US Geological Service is reporting a 2.4 magnitude earthquake in the area of Tuckerton Cove this morning near the following coordinates +/- 2km:

39.574°N  74.336°W

39.574000, -74.336000

The coordinates land under Tuckerton Cove, between “Thorofare Point” off Great Bay Boulevard in Little Egg Harbor Township and “Gaunt Point” near South Green Street in Tuckerton Borough.

The Ocean County Sherriff’s Office reports, “We received a report of a house shaking earlier in Little Egg Harbor. We are not confirming this to be an earthquake, only sharing information.”



Magnitude
uncertainty

2.4 mb_lg± 0.1

Location
uncertainty

39.574°N  74.336°W± 2.0 km

Depth
uncertainty

5.0 km± 1.9

Origin Time

2021-06-09 11:52:35.705 UTC

Number of Stations

Number of Phases

15

Minimum Distance

40.6 km ( 0.37° )

Travel Time Residual

0.71 s

Azimuthal Gap

187°

FE Region

New Jersey (494)

Review Status

REVIEWED

Catalog

US ( us7000ebfb )

Location Source

US 1

Magnitude Source

US 1

Contributor

US 1


Fugitive From Justice Charged With Attempted Murder Apprehended In Atlantic City

January 28, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has announced that Donald Rutter, 61, of Tuckerton, a fugitive from justice who was charged on January 6, 2021 with the Attempted Murder of Thomas Jarvis, 55, of Little Egg Harbor, was apprehended by the United States Marshals Service in Atlantic City on January 28, 2021.

On January 5, 2021, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Little Egg Harbor Township Police were dispatched to Jarvis Marine on Radio Road in response to a 911 call which related that an individual had been shot.  Responding Officers found Thomas Jarvis with an apparent gunshot wound to his midsection.  Mr. Jarvis was transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.  He has since been released from the hospital and is reportedly recovering from his injuries.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit revealed that Rutter was, in fact, the individual who shot Mr. Jarvis.  An exhaustive search of the surrounding area by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Park Police, United States Marshals Service, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and Tuckerton Police Department, was unsuccessful in locating Rutter in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.  As such, a warrant was issued for Rutter’s arrest charging him with Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), as well as Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1).

On January 28, 2021, Rutter was ultimately located in Atlantic City and taken into custody, without incident, by the United States Marshals Service.  He is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

“I am extremely thankful for the outstanding teamwork exhibited by all the law enforcement agencies involved in locating Rutter.  This is a prime example of law enforcement at its best, with our partners at the local, county, state, and federal levels coming together – working tirelessly for more than three weeks – to capture a fugitive from justice. Their collaboration and perseverance certainly paid off today, as Rutter is now lodged in the Ocean County Jail,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Park Police, United States Marshals Service, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and Tuckerton Police Department for their collective efforts in connection with this investigation resulting in Rutter’s apprehension.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.