Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo reported a non-fatal police-involved shooting in Merchantville on Thursday, December 7, 2017.
Preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 3:15 pm, Pennsauken Police were pursuing a vehicle driven by Christian Vargas, 24, of Pennsauken for possible shots fired. Mr. Vargas was signaled to stop by Pennsauken police, but instead fled through several residential streets in Pennsauken and Merchantville, often reaching speeds exceeding 60 m.p.h. while being pursued by police. Mr. Vargas was going north on Chestnut Street in Merchantville, where a Merchantville Police Officer was handling crossing guard duties. The Merchantville Officer drew his weapon and fired one round that struck the windshield of Mr. Vargas’ vehicle. Mr. Vargas still did not stop and continued to flee the scene through more residential streets at a high rate of speed.
Mr. Vargas was not apprehended until later that evening when the owner of the vehicle he was operating during the incident that afternoon, came to the police department to report it missing. She eventually told police that Mr. Vargas was outside the police station. Mr. Vargas, who was not injured, was charged with second degree Eluding by Pennsauken Police. He is pending an appearance in Superior Court.
The Officer, whose identity will not be released at this time, was not injured and has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.
When a municipal police officer is involved in a shooting, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office conducts an investigation into the incident, as required by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office guidelines. The local police department is not involved in the investigation.
Released Friday, December 8, 2017.