Jersey City police officer killed in ambush

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Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago, 23, was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at a Walgreens Pharmacy at about 4.a.m. Sunday, July 13.

Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago, 23, was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at a Walgreens Pharmacy at about 4.a.m. Sunday, July 13. (Photo: Jersey City Mayor’s Office)

JERSEY CITY — Patrolman Melvin Santiago was ambushed by a gunman as he responded to a report of an armed robbery at a Walgreens store around 4 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop said at a news conference that the gunman, Lawrence Campbell, 27, told a witness outside the store to watch television later because he was going to be famous.

Fulop said Campbell asked a Walgreens guard where he could buy a greeting card, then attacked the guard with a knife and took his gun.

He allegedly waited about four minutes for arriving police before shooting Santiago in the head at close range as the officer opened the squad car door, the mayor said.

Fulop said Campbell also fired three times at a second police car, intending to kill two other officers inside.

Police returned fire, killing Campbell, who was one of three suspects wanted by police for a prior homicide, according to the mayor.

Santiago, 23, graduated from the police academy in December and he is the first Jersey City officer killed in the line of duty since July 2009.

Markeisha Marshall, a spokeswoman for Walgreens, said the company was “deeply regretful” over the officer’s death and extended its sympathies to his family and friends. The store has round-the-clock armed security, Marshall noted.

“Patrolman Santiago knew the risks associated with this job, yet he put himself in front of danger in order to keep Jersey City safe,” the Jersey City Police Benevolent Association said in a statement. “Words cannot adequately express our feelings about this senseless tragedy.”


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