Shooting of 76-year-old man by State Police a ‘tragic mistake,’ family friend says – by Bill Gallo, Jr.

UPPER DEERFIELD TWP. — Gerald Sykes and his wife were asleep late Friday night at their Cumberland County home when their dog began barking.

Sykes’ wife woke him up and he went into the living room. At that point, according to longtime family friend and attorney Rich Kaser, Sykes looked out through the French doors leading to a deck where he saw the shadow of a person outside.  

Kaser said Sykes went back into his bedroom and got his shotgun.

Sykes “felt intruders were trying to get in and he was yelling to his wife to call 911,” Kaser said.

What happened next is subject of investigation. Authorities say two state troopershad come to the home after mistakenly being told it was the location of a 911 hang-up call.

According to authorities, shots were exchanged. One trooper fired four times and Sykes fired his shotgun once.

Authorities have not said who fired first.

However, Kaser says the Sykes family told him police fired first from outside the home as Sykes, 76, stood in the living room.

Sykes was hit three times, his attorney says, and then he fired off one shotgun blast that went through one of the doors to the outside.

The troopers had gone to the Sykes’ home after being told that a 911 hang-up cell phone call placed around 11:30 p.m. had originated there. Police arrived at the home around midnight.

It turned out that was a mistake, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office which is reviewing the case.

Authorities said the troopers first tried to get the attention of someone in the home which is located far back off the road by knocking on a front door and when there was no response, went around back to the deck area.

Kaser, a Woodbury attorney, said he visited Sykes at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. Kaser said Sykes “thought there were bad people out there (on his deck).

Sykes’ 80-year-old wife, whom Kaser did not identify by first name, frantically tried to call 911 for help after her husband had been shot. She had trouble because she was so upset but was able to reach the couple’s daughter who called for help, Kaser said.

According to Kaser, Sykes himself, despite being seriously wounded, also called 911 for help.

Kaser said Sykes was ordered to come out of the house. His shirt now soaked in blood, his attorney said, he was helped out by his wife and then ordered to lay face-down on the ground and was handcuffed.

Sykes’ family was told Sykes was under arrest, according to Kaser, and the elderly man was then taken in handcuffs to be treated.

He was listed in critical, but stable condition at the hospital, authorities said.

Kaser said Sykes had been a longtime South Jersey resident, living in both Gloucester and Cumberland counties.

He called the incident “a tragic mistake.”

One of the two troopers was grazed by either flying glass or by the round from Sykes’ shotgun, authorities said. They were treated and released from a hospital.

There have been no charges filed in the case.

Police, in most cases, go to the scene of a 911 hang-up call just to be sure there is nothing wrong. Upper Deerfield does not have its own police force and relies on State Police to patrol the township.

Since this was a police-involved shooting, the investigation has been turned over to the Attorney General’s Office.

An Attorney General’s Office spokesman on Saturday night, citing the ongoing investigation, said he could not comment on Kaser’s account of what happened.

Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find on Facebook.

5 thoughts on “Shooting of 76-year-old man by State Police a ‘tragic mistake,’ family friend says

  1. “he was helped out by his wife and then ordered to lay down on the ground.” 3 bullet holes in him and I’ll bet you 10 bucks a F’N pig put a knee on his back and ground it in. Goddammit! F’N pigs! I hate this shit. The little boys had to shoot this 76 year old man because they had peed their pants.

  2. Why did they handcuff him?? They had already shot him 3 times, were they in fear of there lives buy an 76 year old man that was injured? WTF

  3. It’s not a “tragic mistake”; its a negligent homicide.

    It’s not too much to expect the stupid bastards to know what address they’re at before they start shooting.

  4. “He was listed in critical, but stable condition at the hospital, authorities said.”

    One of the lucky few.

    You stand better odds of surviving cancer ‘treatments’ (chemo AND radiation combined) than you do getting shot by the pigs these days.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.