West Windsor police: Alleged shoplifter grabs police gun in scuffle

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A Pennsburg, Pa., man faces multiple charges after allegedly grabbing a police officer’s gun during a scuffle and threatening to shoot the officer at the Nassau Park Pavilion shopping center May 11, according to the West Windsor Police Department.

The man was charged with disarming a police officer, aggravated assault, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, shoplifting and possession of burglar tools, police said.

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The police officer, who was working an extra duty security shift at Wegmans Food Market at 240 Nassau Park Blvd., responded to a call of an alleged shoplifter who had taken items from TJ Maxx at 210 Nassau Park Blvd. without paying for them, police said.

The officer saw a man pushing a shopping cart through the parking lot near TJ Maxx, police said. The officer approached the man, who fit the description of the alleged shoplifter.

The man pushed the cart away and fled on foot, police said. He disregarded the officer’s calls to stop. The officer caught up to the man and told him to place his hands behind his back to be handcuffed.

The man allegedly refused, stating that he would not go back to jail and that the officer would have to kill him, police said. The officer tried unsuccessfully to use de-escalation tactics. The man broke free of the officer’s grasp, but the officer was able to force the man to the ground.

During the struggle, the man allegedly grabbed the officer’s gun and threatened to shoot him, police said. A TJ Maxx security officer rushed over to help and grabbed the handcuffs. Using defensive tactics, the officer was able to use the handcuffs on one of the man’s hands, police said.

Another West Windsor police officer arrived for backup, and the two police officers were able to handcuff the man.

Once the man was subdued, police found a glass vial containing a suspected controlled dangerous substance in his possession. He also had several burglar tools in his possession, including a pair of pliers and a razor blade, police said.

The man was taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center for evaluation, police said. After his release from the hospital, he was processed and turned over to the Mercer County Corrections Center.

Police Chief Robert Garofalo praised the police officers and thanked the TJ Maxx security staff for their help.

“This incident only illustrates the danger that all of our officers put themselves potentially into on any given shift,” the chief said, adding the two officers involved in the incident have resumed their normal scheduled patrol duties.

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