New Jersey State Police say a trooper shot while investigating a reported home invasion robbery at a mobile home park last spring has been named New Jersey's state trooper of the year for 2020.
Colonel Patrick Callahan said Detective Richard Hershey was honored for what officials called his “fearless and courageous actions" during the investigation in which he sustained a gunshot wound to his abdomen.
State and local authorities said five women ranging in age from 22 to 52 forced their way into a residence in a mobile home park in Pittsgrove on April 25 and assaulted a woman and stole her cell phone. The woman suffered a broken rib and lacerated lung.
Several hours later, a group of people drove to the park and confronted Hershey, who was investigating the incident, and three men opened fire, wounding him in the abdomen, police said. Hershey returned fire, wounding a woman in the leg.
Police officials credited Hershey with having “the presence of mind" despite his critical wound “to approach the fleeing vehicle and strike it with his handgun to leave a distinguishing mark to assist with later identifying the vehicle."
“Unable to walk and bleeding profusely, Detective Hershey managed to crawl behind cover and calmly call 911 to request assistance and emergency services," state police said.
Police said the suspects fired 13 rounds, many of which struck occupied nearby residences. Troopers arrived shortly afterward to aid the detective, who spent several weeks in Cooper University Hospital. Three men were charged in the shooting and 18 people were charged in the overall case including the earlier home invasion.
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Police said the detective's “heroic actions undoubtedly protected the residents of that neighborhood and prevented further tragedy."