Melvin Santiago / AP
A rookie Jersey City police officer responding to a predawn armed robbery call at an all-night drugstore was fatally shot Sunday by a man who wanted to become famous by killing police, Mayor Steven Fulop said.
"Today was a horrible day for Jersey City," said Fulop from the Jersey City Medical Center, where Officer Melvin Santiago, 23, was pronounced dead.
Fulop said Lawrence Campbell, 27, attacked an armed guard at a Walgreens and stole his gun, then waited outside for police to arrive. Campbell apologized to a customer for his violence but told her she would see him on the news because he was going to be famous, the mayor said.
Minutes later, Santiago and his partner arrived on the scene to be greeted with a burst of gunfire from close range, Fulop said. Campbell also fired at a second police car before officers shot Campbell several times, Fulop added. Campbell, who Fulp said had been liked to a prior homicide in the city, was pronounced dead at the scene.
"It is a tragic situation when any officer is killed in the line of duty," Fulop said. "Melvin was an officer who represented everything one would want to see in a police officer. I know the entire city's thoughts and prayers are with the Santiago family during this difficult time and we mourn together."
Santiago is the first Jersey City officer killed in the line of duty since Detective Marc DiNardo five years ago.
Jean Belviso, who has been delivering newspapers for 10 years, said she was driving through the Walgreens parking lot when she said saw a man wearing burgundy sweatpants and a baseball cap walk out of Walgreens. A police cruiser pulled up in front of the store, and the suspect began shooting, Belviso said.
"We thought he was running, coming toward us," said Belviso, who was riding with a friend. "He kept on shooting."
The suspect was shot multiple times before officers handcuffed him, she said.
Hours after the shooting, the suspect's body remained on the ground, about 20 feet from Walgreens' entrance, next to a police cruiser that had its back window shot out. Police placed a tent over the body.
SWAT teams from the Hudson City Sheriff's Office and local police swept the building for additional suspects, the CBS-TV affiliate in New York reported. Witnesses told the station that after the shooting a hostage-type situation took place in the pharmacy. Employees and customers were later ushered out of the building by armed guards and SWAT teams member, witnesses told the TV station.
Santiago studied criminal justice at Hudson County Community College and attended CREATE Charter School in Jersey City, nj.com reported.
Contributing: Associated Press
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Read the original story: Mayor: Gunman seeking fame fatally shot N.J. officer