Lakewood Police Detective Shoots At Suspect Who Rammed Vehicle, Nearly Struck Officer; Suspect Charged with Slew of Charges

A Jackson man is in custody and charged with a slew of charges after a shots fired incident, authorities released today.

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that Kevin Valverde-Cruz, 20, of Jackson, has been charged with three counts of Aggravated Assault and three counts of Eluding Law Enforcement in connection with incidents that occurred on October 18, 2022 and October 22, 2022, in Lakewood Township.

On October 18, 2022, Detectives from the Lakewood Township Police Department observed a white Jeep Grand Cherokee traveling at a high rate of speed. The Detectives attempted to effectuate a motor vehicle stop of the vehicle. The operator of the vehicle failed to stop and the pursuit was ultimately terminated on the Garden State Parkway due to public safety concerns. Later the same evening, the same vehicle, confirmed by the vehicles New Jersey registration number from the first encounter, was located on the shoulder of the westbound lane of Central Avenue in Lakewood Township. Detectives approached the vehicle and made contact with the operator of the vehicle. The operator of the vehicle did not comply with the Detective’s commands and put the vehicle in reverse, striking the Detective’s vehicle. The operator of the vehicle abruptly turned back into the roadway almost striking the Detectives and fled the area. At that time, one of the Detectives fired one round at the side of the vehicle.

On October 22, a Lakewood Police Officer attempted effectuate a motor vehicle stop on the same vehicle in the area of Third Street and Clifton Avenue. The operator of the vehicle failed to stop and accelerated at a high rate of speed towards Madison Avenue. The Officer did not pursue the vehicle.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit determined that Valverde-Cruz was the operator of the white Jeep Grand Cherokee on October 18, 2022 and again on October 22, 2022.

On January 10, 2023, the Ocean County Regional SWAT executed a court authorized search warrant on Valverde-Cruz’s residence in Jackson Township. Valverde-Cruz was taken into custody, without incident, and processed at Lakewood Township Police Department. The white Jeep Grand Cherokee was also located at the residence in Jackson Township. Valverde-Cruz was transported to the Ocean County Jail where he is currently lodged pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Lakewood Township Police Department Patrol Division, Jackson Township Police Department, Howell Township Police Department, Ocean County Regional SWAT and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation and Valverde-Cruz’s apprehension.

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