Cranbury, N.J. – The Attorney General’s Office has identified the man killed yesterday in a shooting involving a state trooper at the Molly Pitcher Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike. The deceased is Christopher Angelo Pizzichetta, 46, of Lewes, Delaware. The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting, according to the state Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
Officials said that the five members of the New Jersey State Police in four unmarked police vehicles were conducting undercover operations targeting narcotics and other criminal activity at the Molly Pitcher Service Area when the shooting occurred shortly before 2:45 p.m. on Thursday.
One of the troopers initially spotted Pizzichetta parked in his pickup truck at the north end of the parking area, away from other vehicles. He appeared to be “shooting up” heroin, according to the OAG. Officials said that as troopers moved their unmarked vehicles to park near to Pizzichetta in an effort to observe him, Pizzichetta drove away and parked in a remote area at the south end of the parking area. The troopers then implemented a plan to approach Pizzichetta’s vehicle and prevent it from leaving the service area.
At least three State Police vehicles, including a Chevy Silverado, moved in to block Pizzichetta’s pickup truck, but Pizzichetta attempted to flee, according to authorities. Officials with the OAG said that he backed up and struck one police vehicle, an SUV, after which he drove forward and struck the Silverado. The police vehicles, including the Silverado, which had its lights and siren activated, pursued Pizzichetta as he sped toward the exit road of the service area. Rather than driving to the ramp leading to the exit road, Pizzichetta cut across a median where another trooper, who was on foot, was standing.
Civilian witnesses said that Pizzichetta sped directly at the trooper, who was wearing a holster and weapon and was clearly identifiable as a police officer, according to the OAG. That trooper fired multiple rounds from his service handgun through Pizzichetta’s windshield, striking the upper part of his body. Pizzichetta’s vehicle continued a short distance across the exit road at high speed and crashed into a concrete retaining wall along the far side of the road.
Pizzichetta was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities said that a syringe and empty glassine were found in Pizzichetta’s pickup truck, along with numerous other glassines containing suspected heroin. None of the troopers were injured, but the trooper who fired was taken to the hospital for evaluation, pursuant to standard procedures.