New Jersey police shot a 76-year-old man armed with a shotgun through the back door of his home when they responded to the wrong address of a 911 call.
Responding to the presumed location of a 911 call, two police arrived at Gerald Sykes’ home Friday night. After not receiving an answer at the front door, they went around the house and knocked on the back doors. The two police and Sykes exchanged gunfire through the glass doors, Sykes took four bullets and police officers sustained minor injuries, according to New York Daily News.
The whole situation was “a tragic mistake,” Rich Kaser, an attorney and friend of the family told NJ.com. The 911 caller hung up before giving dispatchers an address, but emergency teams traced the cell phone to the Sykes’ home, according to a statement from the state attorney’s office.
The location “was later determined to be incorrect, but at the time, two state troopers from the State Police Bridgeton Station responded to the address to see if assistance was needed,” the statement said.
Sykes “felt intruders were trying to get in and he was yelling to his wife to call 911,” according to Kaser. Sykes’ wife, whom Kaser did not name, woke her husband when she heard noises outside the house. Thinking that “there were bad people out there,” Sykes got his shotgun and went to the back door, Kaser said.
Sykes heard the dog bark, and “saw two dark figures” out his back door, Sykes’ step-daughter Diana LaFalce told Fox 29.
LaFalce, relaying her 80-year-old mother’s story of the shooting, said Sykes approached the doors with his shotgun, at which point the officers shouted “drop it,” LaFarce told Fox 29.
Authorities did not say who fired first, only that “there was an exchange of gunfire through the sliding glass door in which one of the troopers fired four rounds from his service 9mm handgun and Gerald Sykes fired a single round from a shotgun,” according to the state attorney, who is still investigating the shooting. The statement also notes that police officers were “shining flashlights into the home and announcing that they were responding to a 911 call.”
Sykes was taken to the hospital, where he was in critical condition Saturday night.
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