Arrest made in shooting of New Jersey officer

Fairfield Police Officer Gerald Veneziano was shot 3 times and critically injured on January 30, 2010.

March 13, 2010 10:24:23 AM PST
Attempted murder charges have been filed against a northern New Jersey man who allegedly shot an off-duty police officer in a road rage episode. Preye L. Roberts of Nutley also faces weapons charges in the Jan. 30 incident, in which Fairfield Officer Gerald Veneziano was shot multiple times in the torso and neck. The 26-year-old officer, who was not in uniform and not wearing a bulletproof vest, fired 13 rounds from his service weapon, but didn't hit the suspect.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino says the 24-year-old Roberts was arrested Feb. 13 by Union Township police for allegedly firing a weapon. Markings on the ammunition matched shell casings found at the crime scene where Veneziano was shot.

"Projectiles and shell casings are almost as significant as fingerprints," said state police Sgt. Jeff Kronenfeld, a member of the Major Crimes Unit that has helped investigate the shooting.

After making the match, investigators went to Veneziano's room at University Hospital in Newark on Friday night, and he identified a photo of Roberts. The officers remains in stable condition and is expected to fully recover from his injuries.

Veneziano was driving his personal car and headed to work when the shooting occurred. He has told investigators that after the road rage incident, the suspect's vehicle followed him from Clifton to Fairfield.

At the time of the shooting, officials say Roberts was renting a black Dodge Caliber with a "W" in the license plate, a detail Veneziano had previously reported to investigators. Authorities have not released details of the road rage incident, citing the ongoing investigation.

"We were all very happy, very pleased and very relieved," Kronenfeld said. "When you can put closure to something like this, it's very satisfying."

Roberts - who faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted - remains jailed on $100,000 bail set for the Union Township incident.