A wild crime spree in New Jersey started when a hospital patient took off in a medical van right after getting released, then crashed on the highway before stealing another car, leading police to open fire on him.
The shots from officers came on Route 35 in Holmdel after the wild series of events that began at Bayshore Hospital. Law enforcement sources said a man, described as a crisis patient, had just been released on Wednesday and stole the work van out of the parking lot. The stolen van had been left running.
The man, later identified by prosecutors as 33-year-old Justin Chacon, drove the van away, but crashed it on top of a jersey barrier a few miles away, near the Middletown and Red Bank border. A good Samaritan tried to help him , but the former patient then stole that man’s car. Chacon ended up a few miles away in Holmdel.
“I was just riding my bike and I heard a loud noise. I seen a lot of traffic with cars. I heard a pop. I didn’t know what that was,” said Bonnie Huvner-Mallon, who heard the commotion nearby.
Just moments before that noise, the stolen car crashed through a couple of utility poles and then plowed through a closed farm stand before the driver jumped out when the vehicle caught fire. Police caught up with him a few yards away — but not before Chacon tried to carjack a third vehicle, according to sources.
Chacon was holding something in his hand and was tasered, sources told NBC New York, but he didn’t drop. He was then shot, but even then there was a physical struggle to subdue the man. He was put into custody was receiving care for the bullet wound.
The chaos forced police to temporarily shut down Route 35 in both directions, leading to horrendous morning rush hour traffic. By mid-afternoon, the semi-charred wreck of the second stolen car was finally hauled away — some eight hours after the wild series of events.
It was unclear what charges Chacon would face, and attorney information was not immediately available.