TRENTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, and the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) today announced the sentencing of two Cumberland County men who, along with a third gunman who was previously sentenced, opened fire at a NJSP detective during a confrontation at a Salem County mobile home park in April 2020. NJSP Detective Richard Hershey, who was seriously wounded by a bullet fired by the third gunman, has since recovered and returned to duty.
Following a trial, Tremaine Hadden, 30, from Bridgeton, New Jersey, was convicted on May 30, 2023, of aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, riot, and weapons offenses. According to the evidence at trial, Hadden fired the shot that hit Detective Hershey. He was previously sentenced on September 12, 2023, to 37 years in state prison.
On January 24, 2024, Najzeir “Naz” Hutchings, 25, of Bridgeton, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in the shooting. In accordance with a plea agreement with prosecutors, Hutchings was sentenced to eight years for aggravated assault and a consecutive five-year term for unlawful possession of a weapon. As part of his plea agreement, Hutchings was required to testify at trial. The sentence was imposed by Superior Court Judge Kevin T. Smith at the Gloucester County Courthouse in Woodbury, New Jersey.
On December 12, 2023, Kareen “Kai” Warner, 23, also from Bridgeton, was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the shooting. Warner pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and, as part of his plea agreement, Warner was also required to testify at trial.
Hutchings and Warner pleaded guilty in May 2023.
According to the evidence at trial as well as documents filed and statements made in open court, on April 25, 2020, Detective Hershey responded to the Harding Woods mobile home park on Harding Highway in Pittsgrove to investigate a home invasion in which a woman was assaulted and robbed.
While the detective was at the scene of that crime, which had occurred several hours earlier, a hostile group of 15 people pulled up in five vehicles at approximately 10:30 p.m., intending to attack and injure a resident at the mobile home park and damage her residence. The members of the caravan were armed with at least two handguns, one knife, and one bottle.
Some of the suspects exited their vehicles and confronted Detective Hershey, who identified himself as a law enforcement officer and gave commands, in an effort to control the intruders. Hutchings, Warner and Hadden began firing on Detective Hershey. Hadden shot at Detective Hershey numerous times from one vehicle, while Hutchings and Warner shot at him from another vehicle. Testimony from a ballistics expert demonstrated that over a dozen shots were fired at Detective Hershey.
He was struck by one bullet in the hip and seriously wounded. Several of the bullets struck occupied homes in the vicinity, and one woman was also injured by a stray bullet. The detective returned fire with his service weapon, and the suspects fled the scene.
Detective Hershey has returned to duty and he was named the NJSP’s 2020 Trooper of the Year for his dedication and courageous actions during the confrontation.
“Our police officers protect the lives of New Jerseyans each day at their own risk,” said Attorney General Platkin. “These defendants brazenly shot at a detective who was trying to protect a member of the public. If you shoot at a police officer, we will seek to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
“We are committed to aggressively prosecuting those who target our men and women in uniform,” said Tom Eicher, Executive Director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. “We are grateful Detective Hershey survived this onslaught of gunfire, and that these defendants are now serving lengthy sentences behind bars.”
“It has been almost four years since the heinous and cowardly attack on Detective Richard Hershey. This sentencing is a testament to the relentless pursuit of justice for Detective Hershey and every state trooper who puts their life on the line daily to keep our communities safe,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “State troopers take an oath to protect and serve, and the sacrifices they make to prioritize the safety of others over their own should always be held in the highest regard.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Erik Daab and Deputy Attorneys General Nicole Wise and Jennifer Davis, along with Trial Assistants Nathalie Kurzawa and Maureen Hitchens, DCJ Media Specialist Erika Neary, Deputy Attorney General Abigail R. Holmes, Chief of the OPIA Integrity Bureau Debra Conrad, and OPIA Executive Director Eicher.
The shooting investigation was conducted by the New Jersey State Police, specifically the Major Crime Unit South, Troop “A” Criminal Investigation Office, Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Cold Case Unit of the New Jersey State Police, Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, Division of Criminal Justice, and arrests were made by the New Jersey State Police Fugitive and TEAMS Units. Assistance was provided by the U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
For Hutchings: Nixon T. Kannah, Esq., Philadelphia
For Warner: Terrell Ratliff, Esq., Cherry Hill