WARREN, NJ - Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano said they have concluded the investigation into the deaths of Heidi Errickson, 45, and her brother Frederick Errickson Jr., 55, both of whom were killed by 48-year-old John Reno, who then committed suicide.
The incident occurred on Mt. Horeb Road in Warren Aug. 16.
The investigation was concluded after the gathering of information that included statements from family and friends of the decedents; police audio recordings; social media and text messages from Reno; other materials collected by Crime Scene Investigators inside the home; and the State Medical Examiner's post mortem examinations.
According to Soriano, evidence found suggests that Reno and Heidi Errickson were involved in an argument in the evening hours of Aug. 15 at their home. At some point, Soriano said, Errickson said she was going to call the police, but neither the Warren Township Police Department or Somerset County Communications Center received a call.
Soriano said they cannot construct an exact timeline for that evening, but Reno posted on a social media site at 10:32 p.m. Saturday, "I so sorry!!!!!!!!!!!"
According to Soriano, Reno also placed calls to family members about what he had done, and his desire to engage responding law enforcement officers. Soriano said Reno told one family member, "I'm going to kill a bunch of pigs."
Reno then waited at the home, Soriano said, and armed himself with a weapon, identified as a GPI SLR15 5.56mm assault rifle, with a detachable box magazine, adjustable stock, pistol grip, bayonet lug, attached bipod and optical scope.
Frederick Errickson Jr. arrived at the Mt. Horeb Road house at about 12:45 p.m. Sunday, Soriano said, and was met with gunfire as he walked up the driveway. Reno, Soriano said, fired from an elevated position on the porch of the house, firing a total of 18 rounds and striking Errickson several times, causing fatal wounds.
At 1:16 p.m., Soriano said, Warren Township Police Dispatch received a phone call from someone who provided information received from phone conversations with Reno, including an understanding that Reno was involved in a shootout with police on Mt. Horeb Road. Although this information was found to be incorrect, Soriano said, police units were sent to the home at 1:21 p.m.
The sergeant and patrolman who arrived, Soriano said, arrived at 1:23 p.m., and were met with a barrage of gunfire. They radioed at 1:24 p.m. that there were shots fired, and requested the Somerset County SWAT team.
Soriano said Reno fired on the responding officers from inside the kitchen area of the house, and one round narrowly missed the sergeant's head. The officers took cover, and, in total Soriano said, Reno fired 20 rounds at the officers.
Police units from Warren, Green Brook, Watchung, Bernards and the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office were among the first to arrive on scene to provide additional assistance and aid the officers.
According to Soriano, as Reno was firing on the officers, his weapon experienced mechanical malfunctions, and several live rounds fell onto the ground. Four were found outside the house near the rear patio, three were found near the front porch and grass area and seven were found on the kitchen floor.
Also found, Soriano said, was a high capacity 30 round magazine with additional live ammunition. Detectives also found seven live rounds and one shell casing near the dead body of Reno, as well as an additional large capacity magazine loaded with ammunition.
According to Soriano, as officers were attempting to establish a perimeter at the house, Reno exited and concealed himself in a depression in the wooded area in the rear of the house.
With the assistance of mobile video recorders, Soriano said, officers heard a short burst of rounds at 1:32 p.m., and, at about 1:33 p.m., a single gunshot sounded, which detectives believe was the shot Reno used to kill himself.
When the SWAT team initially arrived on scene, Soriano said, they believed Reno was still in the house, and, because of the weapon he was using, a larger than normal perimeter was established, including the evacuation of nearby homes. They attempted to contact Reno, and introduced a mechanical robot into the residence, followed by SWAT officers entering the house.
At this time, Soriano said, they found Reno lying in a drainage ditch in a dense wooded area with a self-inflicted fatal gunshot wound to the head.
Soriano said Reno did not have a New Jersey Firearms Identification card, and the weapon he had satisfies the criteria for designating a weapon as an assault firearm, which is illegal in New Jersey.
"This was clearly an individual who possessed a strong desire, a stated willingness and a very apparent ability to inflict tremendous harm on people," Soriano said in the release. "I believe that I can speak on behalf of all law enforcement officers throughout Somerset County when I say that our hearts go out to the Errickson family for their losses. Without the quick and brave action by the immediate responding officers and those officers who followed, the magnitude of the tragedy could have greatly expanded."
The following agencies responded to the incident: Bernards Township Police Department, Bernardsville Borough Police Department, Hillsborough Township Rescue Squad; Long Hill Township Police Department, Martinsville Rescue Squad, Mt. Bethel Fire Department, New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit, New Jersey State Police ROIC, Peapack-Gladstone Police Department, Somerset County CERT, Somerset County Communications and Command Mobile Unit, Somerset County EMS, Somerset County EMS Coordinator, Somerset County Sheriff's Office, Somerset County Tactical Emergency Medical Services Team, Somerville Rescue Squad, Warren Township Volunteer Fire Department, Warren Township Office of Emergency Management, Warren Township Police K-9 Unit and Warren Township Rescue Squad.
Also responding were members of the Somerset County Police Emergency Response Plan, consisting of North Plainfield Borough Police Department, Watchung Borough Police Department, Green Brook Township Police Department and Berkeley Heights Township Police Department.