UPDATE: Suspect in critical condition from shooting as police search for gun

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Dept. of Correction/Donald Capriotti, 39, of Egg Harbor Township Dept. of Correction/Donald Capriotti, 39, of Egg Harbor Township

Egg Harbor Township man with prior manslaughter conviction identified as suspect, allegedly shot K-9 while eluding police

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Police today were still searching along the marshes in West Atlantic City, looking for a gun that police allege was used in connection with a shooting on Thursday, Nov. 7 that left the suspect and an Egg Harbor Township K-9 dog injured.

According to Peter Aseltine, spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General, law enforcement agencies had yet to recover the gun that was used to injure police canine “Shooter” during the multi-agency manhunt for Donald Capriotti, 39, of Egg Harbor Township.

 Capriotti was also shot multiple times by officers from Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township and the New Jersey State Police in the encounter, he said. He is in critical condition and under guard at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center City Campus in Atlantic City.

Aseltine said the suspect will be charged with second degree aggravated assault, second degree eluding and third degree aggravated assault by next week.

The investigation is still in the preliminary stages, he said, but initial reports indicate Capriotti was wanted by police, who were attempting to stop him along the Black Horse Pike. He eluded police in his vehicle before bailing out of the car and running into the marshes near the Bayport One condominium and office complex. He would not explain why police were attempting to apprehend Capriotti.

The K-9 dog was rushed to the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital with a full police escort to undergo surgery for a gunshot wound. His handler is Sgt. Michael Bordonaro, who updated the public today (Friday, Nov. 8) in a statement issued through the department's Facebook page, stating that his partner Shooter is "showing positive signs in recovery and is doing well." 

Submitted/Sgt. Michael Bordonaro and his K-9 partner, Shooter, in a photo from 2011. Submitted/Sgt. Michael Bordonaro and his K-9 partner, Shooter, in a photo from 2011.

Bordonaro was on his way back up to the hospital this morning to check on the dog, according to the department public information officer Lt. Robert Gray. 

"He will make it through the shooting," Gray told The Current, adding that no one knows whether the 6 year-old Dutch Shepherd will be returning to work after his recovery. "Beyond that, we don't know."

Capriotti was sent to prison in 1993 for a manslaughter conviction to which he plead guilty. He also was sentenced at that time for a burglary charge, according to court records.

He was indicted again in June of this year by the Attorney General's office on 23-counts of possessing cocaine, heroin and marijuana, with intent to distribute, as well as an assault weapon and a sawed-off shotgun. He and his wife were charged in an investigation by the Atlantic City Violent Crime Task Force.

Also known as Donald Gardner, Capriotti and his wife Chinyere Gardner, 33, both of Egg Harbor Township, were indicted by an Atlantic County grand jury on various drug charges, including first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and third-degree counts of possession of heroin and marijuana with intent to distribute.

They were also charged with second-degree weapons offenses, including unlawful possession of an assault firearm, multiple counts of unlawful possession of firearms while committing drug offenses, and two counts each of unlawful possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.

Both defendants have prior manslaughter convictions in New Jersey.

Capriotti was also charged with third-degree resisting arrest by force and fourth-degree aggravated assault on a police officer.  Read more HERE.

Since the indictment, he has been arrested twice more in Egg Harbor Township while out on bail. Aseltine said the suspect had attended all court dates set related to the charges. 

He and his wife, along with Randall C. Scott, 20, of Egg Harbor Township, were arrested again on July 11 by Detective John Heim, Detective Heather Stumpf and Officer Robert Sheppard and charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and aggravated assault. Capriotti was also charged with possession of a handgun and aggravated assault with a weapon.  His wife was also charged with possession of a weapon, a knife. Scott was arrested for possession of a weapon, a baseball bat. (Read arrest HERE.)

He was arrested again on Oct. 11 by Egg Harbor Township Police Officer Brett Fair and charged with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia. (Read arrest HERE.)

The Attorney General's Office’s Shooting Response Team is handling the case now, Aseltine said. This team is comprised of detectives and lawyers from the Attorney General’s office. Detectives from the State Police’s Major Crimes Division are also assisting, Aseltine said.

It is expected that the investigation will take “some time” due to the number of agencies involved in the incident, he said. As of today, investigators had yet to complete interviews with all of the officers involved.

During the search for Capriotti, the public had been advised to avoid the area near, where the police were searching for him.

"I think we have the individual cornered," he said while the event was ongoing. "But people are advised to stay away from the area at this point."

Residents and business tenants were advised to shelter in place while police were active at the scene.

Check back for details.

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