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A Crisis Averted In The Night

Police Chief Karin T. DiMichele describes scene on Brennan Concourse where Bayville resident rammed police cruisers and injured officers

It could have been much worse.

Police Chief Karin T. DiMichele has nothing but praise for the way police officers handled a that could have resulted in the use of deadly force.

"This could easily have been a deadly force incident," the chief said. "When I got there, I was just thankful to see them walking."

DiMichele headed out to Brennan Concourse around 3 a.m. after being notified that Berkeley police officers were pursuing a man wanted for an assault who was already too familiar to them.

Kenneth Morris — now sitting in the Ocean County Jail in Toms River — is the same man who barricaded himself in his Northern Boulevard several months ago, DiMichele said.

Officers were on high alert because of Morris' past history, she said.

"We knew he was the same person, so we agreed we could not let him get to another residence," DiMichele said. "We knew we had to stop him."

Police began a high-speed pursuit of Morris at 2:44 a.m. Sunday, after responding to a report that Morris had struck a man in the head with a tire iron, then fled the scene in his pick-up truck. They found him on Brennan Concourse.

Morris, who had told police he had a gun, rammed three police cruisers with this truck. Patrolmen Patrick Stesner, Michael O'Connor, David Moody and Sgt. Peter Larocca were all injured in the assault.

During the pursuit, Morris and Detective Joseph Robertazzi had a phone conversation in which Morris claimed to be armed, threatened to kill the victim of the Brennan Concourse assault and declared his intention to die by "suicide by cop," police said.

The Berkeley resident was soon spotted traveling south on Harbor Inn Road by Patroman Patrick Stesner, who activated his lights and siren in an attempt to pull Morris over. Morris, however, ignored Stesner and fled through Beachwood and Lacey Township, then back into Bayville, police said.

He stopped at the home where the tire iron assault allegedly took place, but found police officers stationed at the residence. He barreled down Brennan Concourse, only to find the gate leading to the entrance of Berkeley Island Park locked, the chief said.

"He did a U-turn and came head-on at the officers," DiMichele said. "He did say he had a gun. When the collision occurred, they didn't know when this guy got out of the car if he had a gun. Tensions were high. The officers used really good restraint."

Morris rammed the police cruisers several times with his truck, then got out and charged the officers. He was eventually subdued with pepper spray.

"I was thankful we had the DWI patrol out there that night, which put more officers on the road," the chief said. "That possibly averted a deadly force encounter."

Stesner, O'Connor and Moody all have neck and back injuries and were treated at Community Medical Center in Toms River. They will probably be on light duty for two weeks, DiMichele said.

"They were up and walking when I was there," she said. "I was thankful for that."

Sgt. Larocca was treated for a facial laceration at the scene.

The victim of the Brennan Concourse assault also was transported to Community Medical Center and received staples to his head. Morris was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for injuries he sustained when he rammed the police cars.

Police are still evaluating the damage to the three police cruisers, DiMichele said.

"The damage looks extensive, but it could be cosmetic," she said.

The Township Council has scheduled an emergency meeting at 5:30 p.m. tonight in Town Hall to speed up equipping new police cruisers the township recently leased.

"We need to get the police equipment into the cars," she said.

Morris was charged with five counts of second-degree aggravated assault, one count of third-degree aggravated assault and one count of second-degree eluding. More charges are expected, police said.

His bail was set at $750,000, with no 10 percent option.

Morris was involved in a on Sept. 19, when police responded to his Northern Boulevard home after someone not at the residence called and said he had threatened some type of violence. He eventually came out and no charges were filed in that incident.

todd benson jr, April 04, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Morris was involved in a 12-hour police standoff on Sept. 19, when police responded to his Northern Boulevard home after someone not at the residence called and said he had threatened some type of violence. He eventually came out and no charges were filed in that incident. My understanding is he knew one of the cops and they let him go .
dazme777 August 06, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I do think police have one of the hardest jobs in the world. I know many who have been killed for stopping a person to tell them there rear light was out. They put their lives on the line everyday.. Mr. Morris was in law enforcement himself , he is one of the beat people I know and is now being tied to the stake .It is understandable to have this bad opinion with the limited revealed facts of this ongoing case.A few facts could change this whole story in a second. Meanwhile there are children,heartbreak and extended family involved. The other side of this story may never get a chance to be told because its easier not to go after the truth and keep things in a convoluted knot. Many divorces have ended in tragedy of late. You have no idea what a person goes through for all the right reasons .It is a problem society needs to deal with better.It starts with not pre-judging.
dazme777 August 06, 2012 at 02:58 AM
There are many divorce war stories out there, that have brought legal troubles,credit problems and extreme situations. The law gets used to make a soon to be ex-spouse so hurt and missing there kids they will agree to anything.. If it happened to me ,it can happen to anybody. The fact that there is no priors of any kind should count for something and lleave society not trying to jail the innocent while the true instigators go free.So many circumstances in divorce involve civil crimes of slander,misrepresentation,parental alienation,infidelity. iLife is one big soap opera.There are too many orphans out there.We have to do better.
dazme777 August 06, 2012 at 03:09 AM
There are no laws that can make a person have morals.Immorality cause many laws to be broken by the people with morals! Just saying....
MG August 06, 2012 at 12:08 PM
I totally agree with you. Let me be the first to say I would have no problem testifying on his behalf.

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