New York

Man Shot to Death by Trooper at New Jersey Turnpike Service Area Identified

The man has been identified as identified as 46-year-old Christopher Angelo Pizzichetta of Lewes, Delaware

What to Know

  • The man killed in the trooper-involved shooting off the New Jersey Turnpike Thursday has been identified as a 46-year-old Delaware man
  • The attorney general's office says state troopers were conducting an investigation when they spotted him apparently shooting up heroin
  • They tried to box him in and he took off, then drove straight toward a trooper; that's when he was shot, officials say

Police say the man shot and killed by a state trooper at a service area off the New Jersey Turnpike Thursday had barreled straight toward the officer after he was caught apparently shooting up heroin, authorities say.

The state attorney general's office says five members of the New Jersey State Police in four unmarked police vehicles were conducting an undercover operation targeting narcotics and other criminal activity at the Molly Pitcher Service Area in Cranbury when they spotted the man appearing to use drugs in an area of the parking lot away from other cars. 

The troopers moved their unmarked cars closer to the man, identified as 46-year-old Christopher Angelo Pizzichetta of Lewes, Delaware, to try to observe him, but Pizzichetta drove away and parked in a remote area at the other end of the parking lot, the attorney general's office said. 

The troopers implemented a plan to approach Pizzichetta's pickup truck and box it in using the three state police vehicles, which included a Chevy Silverado, according to the attorney general's office. 

Pizzichetta took off, backing up and hitting one of the state police vehicles -- an SUV -- and then accelerating forward and hitting the Silverado, officials said. The police vehicles, with its lights and sirens on, pursued Pizzichetta as he sped toward the exit road of the service area. 

Instead of driving to the ramp leading to the exit road, Pizzichetta cut across a median where another trooper was standing and sped directly toward him, according to officials. The trooper was wearing a holster and weapon and was "clearly identifiable" as a police officer, officials said, citing civilian witnesses. 

The trooper fired multiple rounds from his service handgun through Pizzichetta's windshield, hitting the upper part of the driver's body. Pizzichetta's pickup truck continued a short distance across the exit road at a high speed and crashed into a concrete retaining wall along the far side of the road. 

Pizzichetta was pronounced dead at the scene.

A syringe and empty glassine bag were found in his pickup truck, along with other glassines containing suspected heroin. None of the troopers was injured, but the trooper who fired his gun was taken to the hospital for evaluation, per procedure. 

The attorney general's office says the shooting's still under investigation by the shooting response team, made up of deputy attorneys general, detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice and detectives of the State Police Homicide Unit. 

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