WARREN, NJ - The shooter and two victims of a six-hour standoff with police Sunday have been identified.
Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey D. Soriano, Somerset County Chief of County Detectives Timothy M. Fitzgerald and Warren Township Chief of Police William Keane have identified the suspect in yesterday’s double homicide as John Reno, 48, of Mt. Horeb Road in Warren Township.
Authorities say Reno fatally shot his fiancée, killed her brother and then turned the gun on himself.
The two victims have been identified as Heidi Errickson and her brother, Frederick Errickson.
Heidi Errickson was a 1988 graduate of Watchung Hills Regional High School and was employed by the Warren Township School District.
John Reno was also a graduate of Watchung Hills.
The first shots were heard just before 1 p.m., witnesses said, prompting an enormous police and SWAT response. Roads were closed and a perimeter established around the residence.
By 8 p.m, it was over. Soriano, Fitzgerald and Keane advised that the area that was previously barricaded had been secured and that the suspect died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
On Monday morning, both the Warren Township Schools and Watchung Hills Regional High School announced the availability of counseling services to the community.
Soriano said that at 1:21 p.m. on Sunday, police officers from the Warren Township Police Department were dispatched to 232 Mt. Horeb Road for a welfare check of Reno as a result of a request by a family member. At 1:23 p.m., as two responding officers approached the residence, they observed a deceased male victim lying in the driveway. Upon exiting their respective vehicles, Reno fired an assault rifle at them from a first-floor window of the dwelling. While taking fire, the officers radioed for backup and requested the deployment of the Somerset County Special Weapon and Tactics Team (“SWAT”). Neither officer returned fire.
The victim was subsequently identified as Frederick Errickson, Jr. 55, of Pershing Avenue in Middlesex.
Additional police backups from Warren Township and neighboring towns as well as SWAT responded to the scene. At that time, it was believed that Reno was in the residence and presented a danger to all responding personnel. Due to the type of weapon and caliber of ammunition utilized by Reno, SWAT members set up a large perimeter around the dwelling.
After numerous attempts by the Somerset County Crisis Negotiations Team to communicate with Reno failed, SWAT utilized a remote-controlled robot to search the exterior and interior areas of the residence. Once inside, cameras attached to the robot captured the image of an unresponsive fatally injured female victim lying in a first floor hallway. The victim was later identified as Reno’s fiancée Heidi Errickson, 45, also a resident of the dwelling.
SWAT subsequently made entry into the residence, and, once it was ascertained that Reno was no longer inside, SWAT members collapsed the perimeter. In the process of doing so, Reno was discovered lying in a drainage ditch in a dense wooded area to the rear of the dwelling with a self-inflicted fatal gunshot wound to the head. Lying next to his body, officers located the assault rifle with two high-capacity magazines.
The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit as well as the Major Crime Unit responded to the scene.
The investigation revealed that after having an argument with Heidi Errickson, Reno shot and killed her. Frederick Errickson, Jr, went to the residence in an apparent effort to check on his sister’s welfare. Upon Errickson’s arrival, he was shot and killed by Reno in the driveway leading up to the residence.
The investigation has also revealed that the last gunshot — possibly that associated with Reno’s suicide — was heard at 1:33 p.m.
Authorities believe that Reno may have had a history of mental health issues, and efforts to confirm same are under way.
None of the first responding officers who took Reno’s fire were physically hit or injured. However, they were transported to a local hospital for stress-related symptoms.
This matter remains an active and ongoing investigation.
Autopsies of Reno and both victims are to be conducted by the Northern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Newark.
The following agencies responded and supported Warren Township Police during this 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 (on standby), New Jersey State Police ROIC (Regional Operations Intelligence Unit), Peapack-Gladstone Police Department, Somerset County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), Somerset County Communications and Command Mobile Unit, Somerset County EMS, Somerset County EMS Coordinator
Members of the Somerset County Police Emergency Response Plan (Eastern Region), North Plainfield Borough Police Department, Watchung Borough Police Department, Green Brook Township Police Department, Berkeley Heights Township Police Department, 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 andWarren Township Rescue Squad.