UNION, NJ – A shoplifting incident at the Home Depot on Route 22 turned into a wild foot pursuit and search for an armed suspect through the swamp and woods near Kawameeh Middle School Tuesday evening.  The search required the assistance of a Union County K-9 unit, the County Police and a State Police helicopter team.

Union police report that at just after 6 p.m. Tuesday, two males were seen shoplifting power tools at the Home Depot on Route 22. According to police, when a store security guard approached the men, one of them produced a knife and swung it at the guard. One male fled the scene in a silver Lexus. The other male ran through the parking lot pushing the shopping cart full of merchandise.

The men then met up in the Jennifer Furniture parking lot where they loaded the merchandise into their vehicle, according to the police investigation.

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Shortly afterwards, a Union police officer spotted the vehicle on Route 22. The officer pursued the vehicle until it crashed and became disabled between two Parkway ramps by the Union water tower. According to police, the officer attempted to keep the driver in the vehicle by blocking the door with his police car, but the suspect had opened the door enough and he was able to flee the vehicle.  The officer pursued the driver across Route 22 to the hill leading up to the Garden State Parkway, where he was able to take the suspect into custody. 

At that time, the suspect reported to police that he was the victim of a carjacking by the other man, who had a gun. He said the man carjacked him and placed the stolen merchandise in the trunk of his car and made him flee from the police. 

A witness reported to police that the second suspect fled the car, running towards the Kawameeh swamp.  Union police requested assistance from a Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit, the County Police, and a helicopter from the State Police to aid in the search for the suspect. The suspect was not apprehended.

Police determined that the driver, who claimed he was carjacked, was in fact involved in the robbery and was not carjacked. The man, from Newark, was charged and was transferred to the Union County Jail.

One officer sustained a back and shoulder injury during the apprehension.