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Man Found Guilty Of Attempted W. Orange Murder Thwarted By Victim

John Searles
John Searles Photo Credit: Essex County Prosecutor's Office

A 23-year-old man has been found guilty of ambushing a man at his West Orange home and firing multiple gunshots at him, missing him each time, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday.

John Searles was wearing a ski mask and waiting at the victim’s Lowell Place home on Sept. 22, 2016. When the victim drove his car into the garage as he was returning from his daughter’s back-to-school night, Searles jumped into the driveway and charged the victim, repeatedly firing a weapon.

The victim ran towards Searles, tackled him and grabbed Searles’ 9 mm Ruger, tossing the weapon into a nearby yard. As they fought, Searles told the victim "you have a $20,000 bounty on your head,” according to the victim’s account to police.

The gun and a fragment from a 9mm round were later found by investigators.

During the struggle, another person approached and attempted to break the pair up. Searles then left with the man in a black Nissan Altima.

The victim was not struck by gunfire but blood and a bullet hole -- as well as Searles’ DNA -- were later found on the victim’s clothing. The incident was also captured on a surveillance camera, authorities said.

Searles, who was found guilty of attempted murder and weapons offenses, is scheduled to be sentenced in August, when he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors asked that Searles be held until sentencing but a judge ordered him released with a monitoring bracelet attached to his ankle. 

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