A Camden County man pleaded guilty in a Buena case that led to a state trooper firing his gun.
Luis Figueroa, 29, was originally charged with attempted murder for shooting at a motorist and pointing a gun at a trooper during the May 2, 2018, incident in Buena.
No one was injured in the case. The officer who fired his gun was cleared by a grand jury.
Figueroa pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree aggravated assault for firing at the motorist, and a third-degree charge for pointing the gun at the state trooper, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Friday.
Figueroa faces 10 years in prison under the plea agreement, which also included an admission to possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
He is scheduled to be sentenced July 12.
Figueroa, who had been staying at the Rodeway Inn on Tuckahoe Road in Buena, fired multiple rounds in the hotel parking lot just after 1 p.m. May 2, 2018, according to the charges.
He allegedly mistook the victim for a man he had argued with. The shot missed the driver and his car.
Figueroa then walked out to Wheat Road, where he pointed the gun at a second man, a motorist driving on the roadway, charges claim. He didn’t fire at that time.
But that victim drove to a nearby Wawa, where he told a gas attendant that there was a man walking around with a gun. Another Wawa customer also reported seeing a man with a gun.
This caused some confusion, leading to Franklin Township police getting a call at 1:10 p.m. that shots had been fired at the Wawa.
Trooper Scott Montgomery arrived at the hotel with the lights and sirens of his marked patrol car activated. Montgomery found Figueroa near the Cranberry Run retirement community, and ordered the suspect to show his hands, the investigation determined.
Figueroa instead fled toward the woods. As Montgomery followed, a Cranberry Run employee warned him that the suspect had a gun.
Montgomery radioed his location and said he was in a foot pursuit, he then yelled for Figueroa to stop and get on the ground, but Figueroa continued to run.
Once Figueroa reached the tree line, he turned to face Montgomery head on and pointed the handgun at him with both hands on the gun. Montgomery immediately unholstered his service weapon and fired three rounds at Figueroa. Figueroa was not hit by any of the rounds.
Montgomery would later say he fired because he believed his life was in danger.
Figueroa ran again with Montgomery after him. Figueroa fell, and Montgomery placed him in custody.
“It is fortunate that the State Police were able to stop Figueroa and that his violent actions did not result in someone being killed or seriously injured,” said Veronica Allende, director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Our strong criminal laws provide mandatory periods of parole ineligibility for violent crimes and crimes involving guns, and we are using those laws to ensure that this defendant remains safely behind bars.”
After Figueroa’s arrest, officers found he had a stolen Keltec 9mm handgun along with a small handbag containing about .32 ounces of heroin mixed with fentanyl and approximately .18 ounces of cocaine.
In his hotel room, investigators found a scale, latex gloves and packaging materials, including wax folds and baggies. A bag of white powder tested negative for narcotics and was believed to be used as a cutting agent.
Figueroa’s sentence would include five years for firing at the motorist with a consecutive five years for pointing the gun at the trooper. He would have to serve at least seven years and nine months, under the plea.
A three-year sentence for the drug charge would run concurrent.
“The violent and reckless actions of Figueroa posed an immediate threat to everyone in his vicinity and this incident could have easily taken a tragic turn,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “Thanks to the bravery and decisive actions of Trooper Montgomery, Figueroa’s acts of violence ultimately ended with his arrest and imminent prison sentence.”
Figueroa showed to be “a violent man who poses a serious danger to the community as well as law enforcement officers,” Grewal said. “This guilty plea will ensure that he serves a lengthy prison sentence.”