Suspect in Tuckerton Active Shooter Case Apprehended in NYC After Escaping in an Uber

By Pat Johnson | Nov 21, 2019
Courtesy of: Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Suspect Miguel Angel Villegas, 29, of New Haven, Conn.

Tuckerton — Miguel Angel Villegas, 29, of New Haven, Conn., a suspect in an active shooting case in Tuckerton Thursday, Nov. 21, was apprehended at Penn Station in New York City that evening.

“A massive manhunt began earlier today (Thursday) after Villegas exchanged gunfire with a Tuckerton Borough Police Officer earlier this morning in Tuckerton,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said. Villegas, he said, was taken into custody without incident by the U.S. Marshals Service and the New York City Police Department shortly after 8 p.m.

At approximately 10:22 a.m. Thursday morning, a Tuckerton police officer exchanged gunfire with Villegas after the vehicle he was a passenger in fled a lawful motor vehicle stop near the intersection of Route 9 and North Green Street and caused a subsequent collision with another vehicle. The officer was not injured in the exchange of gunfire. Villegas fled on foot and a massive manhunt ensued ending in New York City Thursday evening.

Villegas will be charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose, Billhimer stated. “It is my understanding that Villegas is wanted out of Connecticut. We will be seeking extradition from New York to bring him back here to Ocean County to face these charges,” the prosecutor added.The kidnapping charge stems from the woman passenger who drove the vehicle that crashed.

He thanked the collaborative efforts of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the Marshals Service, NYPD, Tuckerton Police Department, Little Egg Harbor Police Department, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center, New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit, New Jersey Transit Police, Ocean County Regional SWAT, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9, New Haven (Conn.) Police, Port Authority Police, Tuckerton Volunteer Fire Co. and Tuckerton Public Works Department.

“This was truly a team effort. The public can rest easy tonight knowing the men and women of law enforcement worked through the day into tonight to bring Villegas into custody peacefully,” Billhimer added. “Even though Villegas is in custody, this remain an ongoing investigation. More details will be released as they become available.”

Earlier in the day, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department sent Nixle alerts to area residents to be on the lookout for the active shooter, to not approach him but call police. Area schools were immediately placed on lockdown.

According to scattered reports, around 11 a.m., a Tuckerton police officer had stopped a van at the intersection of Route 539 and Route 9 that took off going north on 539 at a high rate of speed, crashing into another car between Second and Third avenues. A woman passenger in the suspect’s van who was not hurt was detained.

The suspect then took off into a wooded area, but police circulated a photo of the suspect riding a shopping tricycle back toward the Route 9/539 intersection. At the Wawa he may have been seen getting into a silver sedan, possibly operated by an Uber driver.

Police units then set up a command post at Route 539 and Railroad Avenue. A state police helicopter was deployed in the search.  —P.J.


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