Man Arraigned In Deaths Of Six Killed In Fiery Crash
MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) _ A man with an extensive criminal record was charged Monday with killing six people who were on their way to church when their car was struck by a stolen police cruiser driven by the suspect, authorities said.
Steve Bolling, 25, of Brown Mills, was arraigned at Memorial Hospital, where he was being held for observation of possible internal injuries.
Bolling, his left foot in a cast and cuts, bruises and burns on his face, was wheeled into a second-floor conference room by two state troopers for the arraignment.
He was charged with six counts of death by auto, three counts of assault on an officer and one count of auto theft. He also was arraigned on one count each of resisting an officer, criminal attempt at theft, eluding arrest, possession of narcotic paraphernalia, and various motor vehicle charges.
Superior Court Judge Cornelius P. Sullivan ordered him held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
He had been arrested earlier Sunday and charged with tampering with a motor vehicle, but was released on his own recognizance.
Bolling’s criminal record includes assaults, burglary and weapons convictions, said state police Superintendent Col. Clinton Pagano. It was not immediately known whether he had served time in prison.
The crash victims, two sisters and four members of another family, were en route to the Fellowship Baptist Church in Mount Laurel to hear a missionary speak when the cruiser commandeered by Bolling sped through a red light and crashed into their car, Pagano said. The victims’ car burst into flames.
Pagano identified the sisters as Janice E. Carmody, 50, of Levittown, Pa., and Frances E. Baldwin, 47, of Elmira, N.Y.
Burlington County Prosecutor Stephen Raymond said the identities of the other victims, a husband and wife and two children, were being withheld pending notification of relatives.
The incident began about 5:25 p.m. Sunday when Bolling walked up to a car parked outside a flower shop in Southampton Township and ″very menacingly″ told the woman behind the wheel he was going to drive the car, said state police Lt. Thomas Gallagher.
The woman and her husband locked their doors, Gallagher said.
Someone inside the shop saw the confrontation and notified state police. Trooper Miguel Cartagena was first on the scene, and troopers Scott Wishart and Ken Dickson arrived in a second cruiser, authorities said.
When Cartagena and Dickson left their cruisers and began walking toward the man, he bolted between the two troopers, jumped into Cartagena’s car and sped off with Wishart in pursuit, police said.
The man rammed Wishart’s cruiser during the chase, which reached speeds of about 80 mph on state Route 38, a heavily traveled, divided highway used by motorists driving to and from the New Jersey seashore. Wishart was not injured. The chase ended with the accident in Moorestown, police said.
Bolling had a syringe when he was arrested, Pagano said, and it is being tested at a state police laboratory.
The superintendent defended his troopers, saying they followed departmental procedures ″every inch of the way.″ They will remain on the job pending the outcome of an internal investigation and an administrative review, Pagano said.
There was no reason for Cartagena to take the keys from his cruiser before questioning Bolling, Pagano said. Troopers usually leave their cruisers locked, but Pagano said Cartagena used the best judgment under the circumstances.
Bolling’s own car had broken down earlier in the day Camden, Pagano said.
Bolling was arrested a few hours later by rangers in Lebanon State Forest in Pembertown Township and charged with two counts of tampering with a motor vehicle, Pagano said. He was released on his own recognizance.