According to Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, 37-year-old Noe Luis Corena is still hospitalized in the Jersey City Medical Center and listed in fair condition after receiving wounds to his hand, shoulder, and a grazing wound to the torso. Corena's wounds are not considered life threatening.
After investigating the incident, DeFazio ruled that it was a "justified police shooting," with an official final report being released on the shooting later this week.
The Prosecutor's Office is summoned to investigate any police shooting which results in an injury and/or fatality. This shooting is believed to be the first ever involving a Guttenberg police officer while on duty.
According to both Guttenberg police and Prosecutor's Office reports, Corena, who lives in a rooming house on 67th Street in West New York, allegedly started to wave what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun at Guttenberg Police Officer Gary Boesch after Boesch was just completing his overnight shift at 7:15 a.m. Boesch then called inside police headquarters, located inside Town Hall, asking for assistance. Police Officer Mark DePew came outside to aid Boesch, with both officers ordering Corena to drop the gun.
"The man was apparently ranting on the street," DeFazio said. "He was confronted by the police, who tried to ascertain what was wrong with the man. They told him to drop the weapon and calm down, but he refused to do anything."
DeFazio said that Corena does speak English, so it is believed he understood the commands of the police officers. "Language was not an issue," DeFazio said.
According to DeFazio, Corena allegedly did not respond to the commands of the officers and in turn made a threatening move.
"He raised the gun into a shooting position and pointed at the officers," DeFazio said. "They, in turn, fired at him, striking him three times."
It was not determined which officer's shots were the ones that struck Corena.
After Corena was treated at the scene and transported to the Jersey City Medical Center, it was determined that the weapon he was carrying was not a semi-automatic pistol, but rather an air pellet gun.
"The officers didn't know that," DeFazio said. "The gun clearly looked like a pistol."
DeFazio said that it was too early to determine whether Corena was trying to get shot by the police on purpose, in an apparent "suicide by police" attempt.
"I don't want to characterize it as such, but it was apparent that Mr. Corena had no regard for his own personal safety," DeFazio said. "There's no question that he had some problems. We're trying to ascertain whether Mr. Corena was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We're awaiting the toxicology reports on that."
Corena has initially refused to cooperate with the investigators and police officers assigned to the case.
"He did not cooperate with the initial attempt to interview him," DeFazio said. "Whether that changes in the future, I don't know. But we will attempt to talk to him again."
Boesch is on his second tour of duty with the Guttenberg police. He returned to the Guttenberg police department six months ago after spending some time as a Port Authority police officer. DePew has been a Guttenberg officer for seven years.
DeFazio said that once Corena recovers from his wounds, he may face criminal charges, such as aggravated assault as well as several weapons charges. He could face as much as 10 years in prison if convicted of all the assorted charges.
"This is not an everyday occurrence in Guttenberg," DeFazio said. "No one seems to recall a shooting in Guttenberg where someone was injured."
Mayor David DelleDonna said that there was an incident six months ago where a police officer had to shoot a dog, but never where a human being was injured.
"I'm just glad that none of the officers or any bystanders were hurt," DelleDonna said. "I'm saddened that it happened. But I think it was an isolated incident. I'm comfortable that our police are professional and that residents are safe."
People who know Corena are shocked by the incident. The owner and operator of the rooming house where Corena has resided for the last three years said that Corena is a construction worker, a devout Catholic and friendly man.
"He's really a very nice man," said Mildred Muller, the landlord at the rooming house. "He pays his rent regularly, and I've never had a problem at all. I didn't even know he had a gun. This is shocking. I don't know what caused this."