BRIDGETON, NJ — Officers arrested a disabled man who fit the broad description of a person accused of threatening to shoot a South Jersey housing agency’s staff. But it turned out he wasn’t the suspect who Bridgeton police sought.

On Nov. 13, the Bridgeton Housing Authority High Rise Apartment Complex received a voicemail indicating that staff would be “shot dead,” police said. Employees informed law enforcement that the call came from a former tenant who was evicted and banned from the premises about eight years ago.

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The employees provided his name and a brief description of the suspect but didn’t have his photo. They reported that he had schizophrenia, used a walking instrument and was legally blind.

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A man entered the lobby as officers investigated the matter. He used an assisted-walking device and appeared to be visually impaired, according to Bridgeton Police Chief Michael A. Gaimari Sr.

“As officers only had the suspects (sic) name and brief description,” Gaimari said in a statement, “for the safety of all present based on the terroristic threats made, this subject was detained and identification requested for fear that this subject could be the suspect who threatened to shoot staff members.”

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An officer patted him down and requested identification, but the man refused to reveal his name, according to Gaimari. After repeated attempts to obtain his identity, he was charged with obstruction of law and hindering apprehension or prosecution.

A search of his person revealed that the man was not the suspect who made terroristic threats. But he was charged, handcuffed and taken to police headquarters.

He was processed and released “without incident,” Gaimari said.

Bridgeton police conducted an internal investigation and reported no wrongdoing among the officers.

“Based on initial review, it appears (the) officers acted in accordance with law and regulations and displayed themselves professionally(, while) preserving and protecting the safety of all present including the staff,” Gaimari said.

Police did not use force outside of routine handcuffing, Gaimari said.

The involved officers were Sgt. Darren Overstreet, Ptl. Brent Bodine and Ptl. Julio Carrion, according to Gaimari and public records.

The police chief declined further comment outside of his prepared statement.

Patch’s efforts to contact the apprehended individual for comment were unsuccessful.

Authorities have generated complaints against the suspect who threatened to shoot staff members. The investigation and efforts to locate him remain ongoing as of Monday, Gaimari said.

Police have not disclosed that suspect’s name.

The incident marked a rare case in which a New Jersey law-enforcement agency disclosed information about an internal-affairs investigation. State law allows agencies to keep those investigations confidential outside of rare cases, such as probes in recent years that result in major discipline against an officer.

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