John Thomas-El, 30, was ordered by state Superior Court Judge Stephen M. Holden to serve 60 years, with 47½ years of parole ineligibility. Thomas-El was convicted on June 30 of attempted murder, aggravated assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and resisting arrest using violence.
The conviction followed a month-long trial before Holden in Camden. The jury deliberated for approximately 14 hours before reaching its verdict. The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General James Ruberton.In convicting Thomas-El, the jury found that he fired a semi-automatic handgun at the detectives during a foot chase on July 24, 2007 in Camden. Det. Sgt. Mark Cunard, Det. William Stolinski and Det. Joseph Loschiavo were detailed at about 10 p.m. to a call of reported shots fired near the intersection of 8th and Tulip Streets.
The detectives were assigned, as members of an investigations unit to identify high crime areas involving illegal firearms and shootings affecting the quality of life in the city.
As the detectives approached the intersection in an unmarked SUV, Thomas-El discharged several rounds into the air from a handgun. Thomas-El fled as the detectives got out of the vehicle and approached him, wearing State Police vests.
The detectives chased Thomas-El on foot, but he repeatedly disobeyed their commands to stop. As Thomas-El continued to flee, he pointed the handgun at the detectives and fired one round at them. Cunard fired his service weapon three times at the suspect, striking him once in the upper right arm. Thomas-El fell to the sidewalk, and was placed under arrest.
The case was investigated by the Attorney General's Shooting Response Team, made up of detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice and the State Police Major Crime Unit, assisted by the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.
Ruberton was assisted at trial by Det. Brian Graybill, lead detective for the Division of Criminal Justice, Det. Sgt. Geoffrey D. Noble, lead detective for the State Police, and Trial Investigator Anne Hayes.
– TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM