Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Beach Haven Police Chief James Markoski announced that on July 23, 2022, Justin Liebhauser, 19, of Randolph, New Jersey, and Gianni Aveta, 18, of Wayne, New Jersey, were each charged with Aggravated Arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a(1), in connection with an incident that occurred in Beach Haven on July 22, 2022.
On July 22, 2022, a 53 year-old female victim entered the Beach Haven Police Department to report that at approximately 10:15 p.m. that evening, she had been struck by a firework explosive that was thrown from a motor vehicle. She advised the Officers that she was walking on Pennsylvania Avenue when a firework was thrown from the passenger side of a Jeep Wrangler. The firework exploded and struck her in the arm and rib area, causing her clothes to catch fire. Officers contacted EMS, and the victim was treated for second degree burns to her arm.
At approximately 11:30 p.m., Officers from the Beach Haven Police Department executed a motor vehicle stop on a Jeep Wrangler matching the description of the vehicle described by the victim. The vehicle was being operated by Liebhauser – with Aveta and three minors as passengers.
An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and Beach Haven Police Department revealed that Liebhauser was operating the vehicle with Aveta and the two minors as passengers in the area of Pennsylvania Avenue earlier in the evening. Liebhauser handed a five-inch shell mortar firework to Aveta, who then lit the firework and threw it out of the passenger side of the vehicle, striking the victim. As a consequence of the investigation, Liebhauser and Aveta were served with the aforementioned charges via summons pending an upcoming first appearance in Ocean County Superior Court.
Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Markoski acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Beach Haven Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collective assistance in connection with this investigation.
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.