Suspect being sought for alleged robbery of Air National Guardsman that sparked exchange of gunfire

A man who allegedly robbed an off-duty law enforcement representative at gunpoint early Sunday in Elizabeth, prompting an exchange of gunfire between the two, is being actively sought by police, Union County First Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas Jr. announced Sunday.  

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, July 8, Elizabeth Police Department patrol units responded to the area of Mary Street and Trinity Place and found the victim, a member of the New York Air National Guard Security Forces.

A preliminary investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Shooting Response Team determined that the suspect approached the victim as he sat in a parked vehicle, opened the vehicle’s driver’s-side door, and robbed him at gunpoint, taking his wallet and military knapsack containing other personal effects.

The victim then retrieved his firearm from his car and confronted the suspect, leading to a brief exchange of gunshots, according to the investigation. The suspect then fled the scene on foot, dropping his firearm as he ran.

Neither man was known to have been injured during the incident. The suspect is described as an approximately 30-year-old male standing approximately 5-foot-10, with shoulder-length dreadlocks, wearing a black-and-white shirt and jean shorts.

Anyone with information about the suspect’s identity or whereabouts, or anyone with information about this incident, is being urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Nora Berrio at 908-370-3016 or Dennis Donovan at 908-527-4558.  The Union County Crime Stoppers are also offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case. Tips can be given anonymously by phone at 908-654-TIPS (8477) or online at

The continuing investigation into this use of force by law enforcement is being conducted in strict accordance with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Directive 2006-5 and the July 28, 2015 supplemental directive, which govern all such investigations statewide.