GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, NJ – On Saturday, June 12, 2021, at approximately 6:04 AM, Gloucester Township Police responded to the area of Sicklerville Road near Garwood Road for a report of a man swinging a metal pole at passing cars. Arriving officers found the man, later identified as 54 year old Robert Anastasi from Gloucester Township, screaming at passing cars and swinging a large metal spear weapon with his right hand.
He was also holding a large can a pepper spray (designed to repel bears), in his left hand. The male clearly appeared to be emotionally disturbed as he was yelling continuously in a threatening manner as the officers attempted to dialogue with him. The officers used their vehicles to block the man from the traffic, and channeled him out of the street and into the Villari’s Restaurant parking lot.
The officers continued to try to talk to him, in an attempt to de-escalate the situation and to get him to lower the spear. The man continued to ramble, curse at, and threaten the officers by raising the spear above his shoulder as if he was going to throw it at them.
In spite of the efforts of the officers to de-escalate and dialogue with him, the male became more enraged and appeared as though he was going to launch the spear at them. Upon being threatened, one of the officers deployed his Conductive Energy Device (CED or Taser) on Anastasi.
The CED was effective and temporarily incapacitated the man, so that officers could take him safely into custody by the officers. The man walked to an awaiting ambulance where he was transported to a local hospital. Officers recovered a large metal spear with a sharpened knife blade attached on the end. Anastasi was also found in possession of a large canister of High Concertation Pepper Spray Bear Repellant. Upon reviewing the incident, Chief David Harkins stated, “I am proud of the officers involved in this incident. They remained calm and used the techniques and tactics that we train on.
They worked as a team, while being threatened by an unstable person who was threatening them with a clearly deadly weapon. This incident could have ended in tragedy for the suspect or the officers. The officers demonstrated a tremendous amount of restraint”.Mr. Anastasi was charged with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (3rd degree), Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose (4th degree), and Unlawful Possession of Chemical Substance (DP). Anastasi was charged on a criminal summons pending a future court appearance, and was taken to the hospital for medical and crisis evaluation and treatment.
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