An Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey man is in critical condition after state troopers responded to the wrong home and fired multiple rounds through his sliding glass door.
Seventy-six-year-old Gerald Sykes was sleeping at his house in the 300 block of Centerton Road on Friday night when dispatchers received a 911 call from a residence nearby that had hung up without making contact
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the call came at around 11:30 p.m. and an attempt was made to trace it so that police could check on the caller. The call was incorrectly traced to the home of the elderly Sykes.
As a result, two state troopers were dispatched from the Bridgeton Station to Sykes’ residence shortly before midnight in two different vehicles and the officers first knocked on the front door.
Investigators with the Attorney General’s Office say after they got no answer, the troopers approached the rear of the home and began shinning their flashlights though a sliding glass door while knocking and announcing that they were responding to a 911 call.
It was at this point that there was an exchange of gunfire through the door in which one of the troopers fired four rounds and a startled Sykes fired one round from a shotgun. It is unclear who fired their weapon first.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Sykes was struck by multiple rounds and his wife and daughter called 911. Dispatchers then talked him into coming outside of the house so that he could receive medical attention.
Sykes was airlifted to Cooper University Hospital in Camden where he was reported to be in critical, but stable condition on Saturday. No charges were filed against him.
Family members say that there are some inconsistencies in the official narrative being put forth by investigators and that there was no reason for the troopers to almost kill their loved one.
Sykes’ step-daughter, Diana LaFalce, said that Sykes and his wife were awakened by their dog’s barks before, while standing in the living room holding his shotgun, police fired four shots.
“They both stepped into the great room and saw two figures standing right at their French doors, right up against the door. Nothing said. No identification,” LaFalce said. “After he collapsed on the floor, he lifted the gun up and shot out the door not knowing who was there.”
LaFalace said Skyes was hit three times, “twice in the chest” and “once in the groin.” She said he suffered a “collapsed lung” and “internal bleeding,” and added that “the surgeon says it’s a miracle he’s alive.”
Investigators say that one of the troopers suffered a graze wound during the incident from either the shotgun or from glass from the sliding glass door. He was treated and released from Inspira Medical Center in Vineland.
The names of the troopers involved in the incident have not been released and neither has any further details, an Attorney General’s spokesperson said, citing an ongoing investigation.
That investigation is being spearheaded by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team who handles probes of shootings involving state troopers. It is unclear if Sykes will recover from his injuries.
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