Man wanted for attempted murder of off-duty Seaside Heights cop in Toms River

     Robert Dechert, 54, of the 200 block of Cedar Street in Lakehurst is wanted for the attempted murder of an off-duty Seaside Heights police officer who attempted to stop him after witnessing a hit-and-run in Toms River. (Photo courtesy of the Toms River Police Department)

    Robert Dechert, 54, of the 200 block of Cedar Street in Lakehurst is wanted for the attempted murder of an off-duty Seaside Heights police officer who attempted to stop him after witnessing a hit-and-run in Toms River. (Photo courtesy of the Toms River Police Department)

    A 54-year-old Lakehurst man narrowly missed striking an off-duty policeman with his vehicle after the lawman attempted to intervene following a hit-and-run in Toms River Sunday evening, police said.

    Robert Dechert of the 200 block of Cedar Street was operating a 2014 Kia eastbound on Route 37 in Toms River when he collided with a 2002 Chevy driven by Gary Pintler of Toms River and then fled the scene in his vehicle, leaving his bumper and license plate behind, according to Ralph Stocco, spokesman for the Toms River Police Department.

    Erik Hershey, a uniformed off-duty Seaside Heights police officer, witnessed the 9:30 p.m. crash and followed Dechert’s vehicle to Aqua Blu restaurant on Route 37, where the Lakehurst man parked, Stocco said.

    “Hershey approached the vehicle, at which point Dechert accelerated rapidly directly at the officer in an attempt to strike him,” said Stocco. “Hershey jumped out of the way and avoided being struck as the Kia fled the wrong way on Route 37 against traffic.”

    A warrant was issued for Dechert’s arrest after he was positively identified as the driver, Stocco said, adding that he is charged with attempted murder by means of a motor vehicle and numerous motor vehicle violations. Bail is set at $500,000.

    Dechert and his vehicle are still being sought by investigators. Anyone with information is asked to contact Traffic Officer Mark Nater at (732) 349-0150.

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