"Road Rage" Shooter of NJ Cop Arrested Two Months Later

Suspect faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted

By Brian Thompson and Glenn Zimmerman
|  Saturday, Mar 13, 2010  |  Updated 10:07 AM EDT
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"Road Rage" Shooter of NJ Cop Arrested Two Months Later

The injured officer is Gerald Veneziano, 26, of Belleville. His photo was released during a news conference Sunday.

Nearly two months after he allegedly gunned down Fairfield Police Officer Gerald Veneziano in a fit of "road rage," Preye Roberts, 24, has been arrested in connection with the crime, the Essex County, N.J., prosecutor's office announced this morning.

Authorities tracked down the suspect from Nutley, N.J. after he was arrested a month ago in Union County for a Feb. 13 shooting. A ballistics test matched Roberts' bullets to the bullets fired into Veneziano on Jan. 30, police say.

On that fateful January day, Veneziano, 26, was followed to within a block of the Fairfield Police Station after calling in to a colleague and asking for a license plate check. Veneziano never got to give the plate number because his colleague was occupied. As he drove to work, he noticed the trailing car and earlier told investigators it frequently flashed its lights as they drove toward Fairfield.

Once parked by the stationhouse, Veneziano decided to check out the person who followed him. Shots rang out, and the officer was hit six times.

The suspect's car was a rented Dodge Caliber, close to the description Veneziano wrote down for investigators in the first days after he was shot, when he was unable to talk. It remains unclear, however, what sparked the initial "road rage" confrontation. 

Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino called the case "one of the most extensive investigations in the history of the Essex County Prosecutors Office."

It was a "difficult investigation because there was only one witness -- the police officer -- who was almost mortally wounded and was in an extreme state of shock," Laurino added.

Fairfield Police Chief Steve Gutkin says Veneziano is progressing well and able to walk without assistance.

Roberts was charged with attempted murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. If convicted of all charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
 

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