N.J. woman justified in using deadly force in Panther Valley shooting

ALLAMUCHY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (Warren County) – A Florida man, who was distraught over a broken engagement, sexually attacked his ex-fiancee before asking her to kill him, according to the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office.
 
New Jersey State Police arrived at the victims residence in Panther Valley on March 19 for a report of a sexual assault. Police then found Gage Theard, 24, of the 6500 block of Sinclair St in Milton, Florida, dead on the second floor, having been shot twice.
 
The victim provided statements to New Jersey State Police, who conducted the investigation along with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office.
 
On August 17, a Warren County grand jury determined the use of deadly force was justified, according to the prosecutor.
 
Theard was attending U.S. Navy flight school and in March, his fiance broke off their engagement.
 
Theard tried but failed numerous times to rekindle the relationship, and on March 17 began heading north from Florida. On the way, he tried to set up a meeting with the woman, who declined after some discussion, prosecutors office said.
 
Theard stopped in Winchester, Va., where he purchased zip ties and duct tape. After another failed plea for another chance, he continued to the Panther Valley section of Allamuchy, parked outside the gated community and walked to the woman’s home, prosecutors office said.
 
Theard had a 9 mm handgun, extra ammunition, two knives and the ties and tape when he rang her doorbell at 10:30 p.m. March 19. He forced his way in when she answered the door. She locked herself in her bedroom, but Theard broke through the door and sexually assaulted her, prosecutors office said.
 
When the woman tried to escape, investigators say he grabbed her, put a knife to her neck and threatened to kill her if she tried anything again. Theard tied the woman to a chair and “becoming more and more unstable began to speak to her about death and suicide for hours,” eventually coming to the realization that he had committed crimes, prosecutors office said.
 
“Faced with what he had done, he told (the woman) that he would have to die as there was no way out of the situation for him. (She) asked Mr. Theard if she was going to live to which he replied ‘he did not know,’ the news release said.
 
The victim asked Theard to leave, but he instead demonstrated how to use the gun and handed it to her, telling her to shoot him in the head, She refused, and Theard told her that if she didn’t do as he asked that he would shoot her and kill himself, investigators said.
 
“In an attempt to escape the situation with her life, but not wanting to kill Mr. Theard, (the woman) stated that she shot him once” in the back shoulder. Theard stood and yelled as he turned toward her. She fired again, hitting him the shoulder. She ran from the home and called 911, the news release said.
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(Photo: New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Unit outside the victims residence on March 19)