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Florida man rammed military police vehicles, dragged officer at N.J. base, feds say

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (Famartin/WikiCommons)

A Florida man admitted Tuesday to assaulting two U.S. Air Force military police officers in a confrontation when he sped past a checkpoint at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, rammed police vehicles and dragged an officer with his car, authorities said.

Hal Wander, 25, pleaded guilty during a teleconference federal court hearing to assault on two federal officers using a deadly and dangerous weapon, his vehicle, according to New Jersey U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.

Wander on Nov. 16, 2020 drove his car onto the Burlington County military base without stopping at a checkpoint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Military police in marked vehicles pursued Wander before one officer positioned his vehicle in front of Wander’s car in an effort to stop him.

Authorities said Wander intentionally rammed the military police vehicle and reversed his car into the second police vehicle. When Wander’s car stopped, an officer reached inside to turn off the engine.

“Wander then drove forward, dragging [the officer] several feet before [the officer] was able to disengage from Wander’s vehicle,” the statement said. “Wander continued to drive his vehicle dangerously until he hit a utility pole, came to a stop, and was arrested.”

It was unclear why Wander – a resident of Port Charlotte, a community about 40 miles outside of Fort Myers – was in New Jersey. Authorities did not disclose a possible motive for the assault.

Representatives for the base and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which investigated the assaults, did not immediately respond to a message Tuesday night.

Wander is scheduled for sentencing June 15 and faces a possible maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.


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