A New Jersey man is in critical condition after he was shot multiple times by state police who were responding to a 911 call at the wrong home.
Around midnight on July 26, a 911 call was incorrectly traced to the home of 76-year-old Gerald Sykes in Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey.
Sykes and his wife, Margot, were awakened by their dogs. As they thought the two law enforcement officers were intruders, Sykes grabbed his shotgun and told his wife to call 911, according to NJ.com.
"They both stepped into the great room and saw two figures standing right at their french doors, right up against the door," Diana Lafalce, Sykes’ stepdaughter, told WPVI. “Nothing said. No identification.”
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Soon after, Sykes was shot by the officers three times. He was taken to hospital with internal bleeding and a collapsed lung. Police have yet to disclose whether Sykes or the state troopers fired the first shot. The Attorney General's office is investigating the incident.
"After he collapsed on the floor, he lifted the gun up and shot out the door not knowing who was there," said Ronald Lafalce, Sykes' son-in-law.
According to his family, Sykes was treated like a criminal throughout the incident.
"Why was the first response to pump four rounds through a door?" asked Ronald.
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Sykes was reportedly denied medical treatment for 45 minutes after he had been shot. After the elderly man made his way outside his home, law enforcement officers reportedly ordered him to lay face down on the ground and handcuffed him. He was taken to a local hospital and is in critical, but stable condition.
"The surgeon says it's a miracle he's alive," said Diana.
According to a police statement, the law enforcement officers identified themselves when they arrived at the house. But Sykes’ family does not believe the officers clearly stated who they were. Sykes, who has a deep respect for law enforcement, did not know that he had been shot by police officers until he was conscious at the hospital.
"His eyes got big as saucers and he said, 'What? Those were state troopers?’” recalled Diana. "'They never game me a warning. They shot me without even a warning.'"