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Murder and Kidnapping Charges for a Salem County Man

Jeff Chiesa and Senator Kip Bateman
Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media NJ

25-year-old Lavar Rodgers, 25, of Salem City, has been named in a 29-count state grand jury indictment charging him with multiple counts of kidnapping, attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons offenses. Rodgers is also charged with purposefully injuring a police dog, a fourth-degree offense.

The charges stem from an investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team into an incident in January of last year. Rodgers allegedly took his girlfriend and her three children, all under age 4, against their will and held them at gunpoint inside a row home they shared in Salem City. Officers from the Salem County Prosecutor’s Office, Salem County Sheriff’s Office and Salem City Police Department responded to the home about 3 p.m. in blizzard-like conditions. Fearing for the safety of the woman and her children, a decision was made to have officers enter the home.

Four officers entered the home accompanied by a K-9 unit dog, Jordan, a German shepherd. As soon as the officers entered, Rodgers allegedly fired three shots, wounding Senior Investigator Stephen Dick in the shoulder and wounding the dog in the chest. Dick and Officer William Robinson both returned fire, but Rodgers was not hit. He remained in the house with his hostages.

Police tried to negotiate with Rodgers. The girlfriend and children emerged from the house over the next few hours. The standoff continued until early morning, when members of the New Jersey State Police Technical Emergency and Mission Specialists (TEAMS) Unit fired pepper gas into the home, then entered and searched the house and an adjacent row home. Rodgers was found hiding in the adjacent home and was arrested without further incident. Police recovered a .45-caliber handgun in the home where Rodgers was found, and recovered the gun he allegedly fired at the officers in the girlfriend’s home.

“The law enforcement officers in this case responded with great courage in circumstances that were extremely dangerous and challenging,” says State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa. “I commend them for their calm professionalism. To protect the public and officers who put their lives on the line each day, we will prosecute this type of violent offender to the full extent of the law.”

The investigator and Jordan both recovered from their wounds. Rodgers remains in the Salem County Jail with bail set at $500,000.

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