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Six years for Allendale man in Hackensack park shooting, police chase after wife says he didn’t mean it

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: An Allendale man won’t be eligible for parole until the end of 2018 for firing a revolver at his wife and another man in Hackensack’s Foschini Park and then leading police on a wild chase, ramming his SUV into two of their cars and injuring three officers.

Presiding Superior Court Judge Susan J. Steel sentenced James Thompson in Hackensack this afternoon to six years in state prison — minus 527 days of jail credit — after his wife told her that he lost his job that day and “didn’t go [to the park] with the intent of harm.”

“Prior to this, Jim has never been in any kind of trouble,” she said. “He was an upstanding citizen. When this happened, he was under a lot of stress. We were having marital problems, and that day he lost his job.

“I would never have expected this in a million years because he’s just not that kind of person.”

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Jessica Gomperts added that “even the police officers have also sought leniency for Mr. Thompson for the predicament he has found himself in.

“I’m not unsympathetic to the emotions of his wife and children,” she said, noting that she agreed to cut her original 12-year plea offer in half and have all traffic summonses against Thompson dimissed. “I have spoken with his wife, and the other victim has also now changed his mind as to the punishment he would like to see.”

However, Gomperts added: “We still have to address his criminal behavior. He not only brought one but two firearms to a busy public park in the middle of the day — and then led the police on a high-speed chase.”

Speaking in a barely audible voice, Thompson told the judge: “I apologize to my wife and daughters [ages 28 and 23]. This will never happen again.”

A probation officer who witnessed the Jan. 2, 2014 incident that sparked the mayhem called to report seeing Thompson pull and fire a .32-caliber revolver during a dispute he was having with his wife and another man in the park.

No one was hit, but police said the shooting left bullet holes in a car.

Thompson — who operated an antiques consulting company out of his Hillside Avenue home — then sped off in a 2013 Nissan SUV, they said.

Hackensack Police Detective William Inglima spotted the vehicle and began chasing it moments later.

Thompson then drove it over the sidewalk and through the bushes in the Hackensack Avenue parking lot of Target before emerging out the back on Main Street, city Police Director Michael Mordaga told CLIFFVIEW PILOT at the time.

“There, he saw Detective Ryan Weber’s police car and intentionally rammed it with such force that the car was totaled,” the director said. “He then drove around it and kept going.”

Just up the road, Thompson spotted Officer Rory Chapin headed toward him — and did the same to his car, Mordaga said.

He continued south on Main Street, with the collapsed wheel on the front driver’s side sending sparks flying.

Thompson tried turning onto Anderson Street, but the car hit a curb and came to a stop, Mordaga said.

Detective Alex Lopez-Arenas, one of several officers who fought to get the struggling suspect out of the vehicle, sustained a minor leg injury, the director said. Both Weber and Chapin sustained non-life-threatening injuries, as well, Mordaga said.

Half of the charges in a 16-count indictment accused Thompson of assaulting, attempting to assault or threatening a half-dozen police officers and detectives.

It also charged him with attempting to elude police, attempted serious bodly injury to the man and woman in the park and threatening to shoot them. The indictment added three gun possession counts and a single charge of illegally having a hunting knife, as well.

TOP: Defense attorney Brian Neary, James Thompson (STORY / PHOTO: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia)

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