Man arrested for killing in Weehawken Parolee had been in jail for attempted murder of fiancée

A Newark parolee is being held in Hudson County Jail on $2 million bail after allegedly fatally shooting the apparent friend of his ex-girlfriend, seriously wounding the ex-girlfriend, and then leading an off-duty police officer on a wild armed chase through the streets of Weehawken and Union City on New Year’s Eve.

According to Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, 45-year-old Colton Holbrook, who was on parole for the attempted murder of his fiancée 10 years ago, was charged with the murder of a 27-year-old Union City woman, Marcie Johnson, and with seriously wounding Emily Diaz at Diaz’ Hudson Place residence in Weehawken.

Holbrook was apprehended by Secaucus off-duty police detective Dennis Miller, who resides in Weehawken.

DeFazio said that the incident was domestically related, and that apparently Holbrook had just recently ended a relationship with Diaz.

“He went to the residence of Emily Diaz New Year’s Eve morning and apparently let himself in with a key he still had,” DeFazio said. “He [allegedly] threatened Emily and brandished a handgun. Marcie Johnson was visiting with Emily Diaz and tried to intervene. It appears as if Johnson might have been acquainted with Holbrook before. But Holbrook [allegedly] shot her once in the chest with a .380 semi-automatic pistol. It was apparently a gross overreaction.”

Johnson was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Holbrook then allegedly turned the gun on his ex-girlfriend, shooting her once in the leg.

“After he [allegedly] shot her, she ran out of the apartment,” DeFazio said. “He followed after her and the two were outside the residence, where he [allegedly] assaulted her, hitting her with the gun.”

That is when Miller, a Weehawken High School graduate and the former quarterback on the football team, stepped in. Miller, who has been a Secaucus police officer since March, 1999, has been on loan as a plainclothes detective to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office since June, 2003. He was off-duty at the time of the shooting and just happened to be driving by.

“Officer Miller saw what was happening, got out of his car and ordered Holbrook to stop,” DeFazio said. “Miller was armed and pointed his weapon at Holbrook. Holbrook pointed his weapon at both Miller and the victim and [allegedly] pulled the trigger to shoot Diaz, but the gun jammed and he tried to flee the scene.”

Still armed, Miller ran after Holbrook through the streets of Weehawken and Union City for about 10 blocks. Miller contacted the Weehawken police department and they continued the pursuit until Holbrook was contained at gunpoint at 38th Street and Park Avenue, where he was apprehended by Miller and the Weehawken police.

When the police apprehended Holbrook, they found a loaded pistol.

DeFazio commended Miller’s quick thinking.

“It was excellent police intervention by Miller,” DeFazio said. “He showed reasonable restraint in not firing his weapon at the perpetrator. He had every reason to, because Holbrook was waving his weapon in the air. He reacted accordingly.”

Since the matter is still pending a grand jury investigation, Miller was unavailable for comment.

Used restraint

Secaucus Police Chief Dennis Corcoran said that Miller has been a decorated member of his department, earning the Excellent Police Service Award for his work in narcotic street crimes.

“He would have been more than justified if he used his weapon, but he made the right decision not to discharge it,” Corcoran said. “We’re very proud of him. He made the right call. I called him to tell him how pleased we were that he did the right thing. It was going above the call of duty.”

According to DeFazio, Diaz remains hospitalized at the Jersey City Medical Center for treatment of her injuries.

First imprisonment

The scene was eerily similar to another incident 10 years ago that sent Holbrook to a state correctional facility for nine years.

According to correctional records on the Web, on June 28, 1993, Holbrook went to the Basking Ridge headquarters of AT&T to confront his ex-fiancée at the time, AT&T employee Christine Facey, who had just recently broken off the couple’s engagement.

Facey returned from her lunch break that day and found Holbrook in her workspace, brandishing a gun. Facey ran from Holbrook and fell in a nearby hallway. Holbrook, a United States Army sergeant at the time, took aim to fire at Facey, but the gun did not fire. Two of Facey’s co-workers subdued Holbrook until the police arrived.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for criminal attempt and aggravated assault and was released on parole on June 9, 2003 from a halfway house in Essex County.

In interviewing Diaz, DeFazio said that her relationship with Holbrook ended in the beginning of December, but that he still had the keys to her Weehawken apartment.

Johnson’s death on New Year’s Eve was the lone homicide in Weehawken for the entire 2004 calendar year.

Holbrook is still being held in lieu of $2 million by cash bail, after getting arraigned Monday morning in Central Judicial Processing. He has been charged with murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault.

Holbrook was a member of the U.S. Army, earning the rank of sergeant, from 1980 until the time of his arrest for the first attempted murder. He was a veteran of the Persian Gulf war and a recipient of the Bronze Star.

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