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February 22, 10

NEWS / NJ Troopers Arrest Man for Calling in False Report of Gunmen at Turnpike Rest Stop

W. TRENTON -- The New Jersey State Police today charged a New York man with causing a false public alarm in connection with a widely publicized stop of a van transporting minority high school students from Queens on the New Jersey Turnpike. Rodney A. Tanzymore, 19, of St. Albans (Queens) N.Y., was charged at an NYPD precinct station by New Jersey troopers who had investigated the November 21st incident.

State Police detectives allege that Tanzymore phoned in the false information to 911 that described three of the occupants of the student group and stated that these men got out of a van in the Woodrow Wilson service plaza on the turnpike with handguns. Tanzymore was one of the students on board the van. He also described the Mercedes passenger van with tinted windows in which the students and their chaperones were traveling home from a trip to a Washington, D.C. university. The description included a partial license plate for the vehicle.

The call prompted a high-risk response by numerous troopers who located the van and evacuated the 15 occupants on the side of the turnpike in Hamilton Township, Mercer County. During that process, Tanzymore gave troopers a false name and date of birth. The group was placed back in their van when the search turned up no weapons.

When someone involved with the group publicly questioned the credibility of the complaint, the New Jersey State Police released the audio of the 911 call and video from the in-car cameras to show the critical nature of the incident and the professional response by the troopers.

“A false report such as this endangers everyone involved and is indeed a reckless act, one that our office will not tolerate,” said Acting Attorney General Paula T. Dow. “We will prosecute this matter to the fullest extent of the law.”

“A call about a very dangerous public safety threat cannot be taken lightly. When our troopers on the turnpike hear a report of three men with guns at a public rest stop, they must act with a quick and measured response. Part of our job is to face such dangers in a professional manner, and I’m proud of the work our troopers do,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the State Police.

Detective Sergeant Ray Smink and Detective I Ken Hoppe, assigned to the New Jersey Turnpike, were the primary investigators. They reviewed evidence including numerous surveillance camera feeds and mobile phone data from the 911 call centers. They have obtained evidence indicating that Tanzymore made the call from a mobile phone registered to a family member while he was at the service area during a stop for food.

Tanzymore was located by NJSP Fugitive Unit members working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshall’s Task Force. He was detained by NYPD pending extradition procedures, unless he waives extradition. His bail on the New Jersey warrant is $50,000 with a 10% option.

The third degree charge of causing false public alarm (NJS 2C:33-3a) can carry a jail term of up to five years in prison. The case will be prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice within the Office of the Attorney General.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.




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