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Wannabe Hitman Gets 20 Years For Attempted Murder In W. Orange

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

A 23-year-old Edison man who shot at a West Orange resident and claimed there was a “bounty” on the victim was sentenced this week to 20 years in prison, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said.

On Sept. 22, 2016, the victim returned to his Lowell Place home from his daughter’s back-to-school night when John Searles, who was wearing a ski mask, emerged from the driveway and ran towards him, firing multiple shots. The victim was not hit.

The victim rushed Searles, tackled him, grabbed Searles’ 9 mm Ruger and threw it into a neighboring yard, authorities said.

As they fought, Searles said to the victim, “You have a $20,000 bounty on your head,” the victim told police.

A second person tried to separate the two and then fled with Searles in a black Nissan Altima. The identity of that person is unknown, authorities said this week.

Searles was found guilty of attempted murder and weapons offenses at a trial in June. He must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. 

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