Three teens who say they were looking for a friend's house in Sparta, NJ, early Sunday morning went to a neighbor's house by mistake—and apparently freaked out the owner, an off-duty state trooper, enough to get him to start shooting at them, officials tell the AP. The trooper, meanwhile, says it was nearly 2am and he thought the teens were trying to break into his home (the trooper hasn't officially been IDed, but NJ.com says the home belongs to Kissinger Barreau, a 2009 graduate of the state's police academy). An investigation by the state attorney general's office so far mainly jibes with what 18-year-old Jesse Barkhorn has told New Jersey Advance Media: that the teens knocked on the door, that the trooper came downstairs and started cursing at the teens through the door (the AG's office calls it a "verbal exchange"), and that the trooper followed the teens outside with his gun as they fled in their car.
Where they differ: The trooper says he IDed himself as law enforcement, but the teens say they didn't hear that. Barkhorn says they saw the gun's laser before the trooper fired three shots with his personal weapon. "At this point we're freaking out, 'It's a gun. It's a gun,'" Barkhorn tells the AP. "I was like, 'Dude, get out of here.'" One bullet struck a tire, stopping the car about 1.5 miles later. Two ex-New Jersey prosecutors who admit they've only seen public reports on the case tell NJ.com the trooper could be in trouble if he can't prove deadly force was justified. What could hurt his case: police scanner recordings that indicate the trooper followed them in his Ford Explorer, NJ.com reports. "It was traumatic," Barkhorn tells the AP. "You don't really appreciate things until you have a gun pointed at your head." The AG's office is still investigating, per the Daily Record.