Mayor: NJ Police Officer Killed By Gunman Lying In Wait - KMSP-TV

Mayor: NJ Police Officer Killed By Gunman Lying In Wait

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. – A New Jersey police officer was killed in the line of duty early Sunday, shot by a man who told witnesses he was going to be famous, investigators say.

Officers were called to a Jersey City Walgreens for a report of an armed robbery but instead found the suspect waiting for them outside and ready to fire, police say.

FOX's Lisa Evers reports that the flag at city hall in Jersey City is at half-staff in honor of police Officer Melvin Santiago, a rookie cop who was still in his probationary first year when his life was taken by a bragging gunman.

The 23-year-old officer never had a chance. He and his partner rushed to a 24-hour Walgreens to check out an armed robbery, but officials say it was just a trap by 27-year-old murder suspect Lawrence Campbell to shoot a police officer.

"Surveillance cameras show Campbell walked outside and speaking to a witness, at which time he apologized for his conduct in Walgreens and subsequently told the witness to watch the news later today, he's going to be famous," Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said.

The mayor says Campbell beat up an armed security guard inside the drugstore and took his gun, then went outside and waited for police.

"Campbell approached the police vehicle at close range and fired into the vehicle with the door open, striking Officer Melvin Santiago in the head," Fulop said. "He then fired three more rounds at a second marked police car, striking the windshield in an attempt to kill two more police officers."

Police responded and shot and killed Campbell. At Jersey City Medical Center, friends and family tried to console each other over the loss of a dedicated young police officer taken way too early.

Santiago's body was carried away in an ambulance along with a caravan of police cars.

The Jersey City Police Benevolent Association says Santiago "knew the risks associated with this job, yet he put himself in front of danger in order to keep Jersey City safe."

The mayor said, "I can't express how hard it is to see a body of a police officer come in to the Jersey City Medical Center and have his mother identify that body and just keep repeating the badge number and his name that it's not possible."

Police say Campbell was a suspect in a Jersey City murder along with another man, for whom they're actively looking. And they say Campbell was no stranger to trouble. Records show he was arrested at least twice for selling drugs near schools, Evers reported.

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