Toms River Police Car (File Photo)
Toms River Police Car (File Photo)

A Toms River man is suspected of planning a so-called “suicide by cop” incident early Sunday morning, ultimately ending with the officers subduing the man using non-lethal means and bringing him to an area hospital. But the tense standoff carried the risk of turning tragic.

Officers were called to the area of James Street and Lewis Avenue at about 2:10 a.m. Sunday for reports of a male brandishing a handgun at the caller. Upon arrival, a man identified as Zachary Brown, 26 of Toms River, fitting the caller’s description, was located by officers walking west on James Street. Brown had his left hand in his jacket pocket at the time, and appeared to be manipulating an unknown object, said police spokeswoman Jillian Messina.

Brown was given commands by the officers to remove his hand from his pocket, but he refused to do so, police said in a statement. During the incident Brown also made multiple statements alluding to the fact that he had a weapon in his possession, and either “he was going to assault officers or officers were going to have to assault him,” Messina said.


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Brown then made several jerking motions towards the officers as if he was going to pull his hand out of his pocket and reveal a firearm. Several attempts were made to reason with Brown, Messina said, however he made statements such as “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want to go home tonight?'”

“As Brown was growing increasingly impatient with the situation he created, he began to advance toward officers,” the statement said.

He was ordered multiple times to stop moving but refused officers’ commands and continued walking toward them. Officer John Marsicano then deployed a single cartridge from his taser and Brown fell to the ground and was secured by officers in handcuffs and treated by EMS on scene.

Toms River police communications officers confirmed the multiple calls received to dispatch were, in fact, by made by Brown himself.

Brown was ultimately transported to Community Medical Center for further treatment. He was ultimately transported to the Ocean County Jail after being charged with terroristic threats, obstruction of justice, false reports, and resisting arrest. No weapon was recovered.

“There were eleven Toms River Police Officers, and a K9 Officer, on the scene during Zachary Brown’s attempted Suicide by Cop,” said Police Chief Mitch Little. “I would like to commend every one of them for their professionalism and conduct during a very intense situation. There were several different ways the night could have potentially ended, and we are grateful that everyone went home safe to their family at the end of their shift.”

Shorebeat has withheld the suspect’s photograph due to the sensitive nature of the incident.