(PHILADELPHIA) — The man who “unleashed a barrage of gunfire” on three police officers Friday morning in New Jersey was an employee of the New Jersey Department of Corrections who had been arrested for allegedly stalking his ex-girlfriend’s home.
The suspect was shot dead in the police station. Three police officers also were shot but are expected to make full recoveries.
Eddie Jones III, 39, of Willingboro, N.J., was arrested around 1 a.m., when he was found allegedly stalking the home of his former girlfriend. Jones was employed by the Department of Corrections as a civilian communications officer, not a sworn corrections officer, police said.
Jones was then transported to the Gloucester Township Police Department for processing related to his charges.
“As part of standard processing, the handcuffs were removed from Mr. Jones and he then suddenly attacked the officer, tackling her to the ground, striking her upon the head and removing her department-issued firearm from her holster,” Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle said at a news conference.
When the officer, identified as Ruth Burns, called for help, Sgt. James Garber and Sgt. Kevin Thyne, who were right outside the room, rushed in to help.
Jones opened fire on the two officers and they returned fire, Earle said. The officers were armed with 40-caliber Sig Sauers.
Thyne was shot in his duty belt, which caused a laceration on his stomach, and a suffered a graze wound to his chin. Burns was shot in the foot. Garber was shot multiple times, including in the chest and abdomen. He also suffered a graze wound to his head.
Jones was “shot multiple times by police” and was pronounced dead at the scene, Earle said.
Thyne and Burns have been treated and released from Cooper Hospital. Garber underwent surgery and is in stable condition.
“I am so proud of the actions of these officers as they placed themselves in harm’s way to save the lives of their fellow officers, police dispatchers and our community members during the suspect’s escape attempt,” Earle said.
When asked whether the officers’ actions would be regarded as self defense, Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk said at the news conference, “At this point, all the evidence points towards these officers returning fire.”
The incident is being investigated jointly by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and the Gloucester Township Police Investigations Bureau.
All three officers are on administrative lead, which is standard procedure for police involved in shootings.
“This morning, the reality of a cruel world fell upon our doorsteps,” Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer said at the news conference. “Today, our community experienced an unprovoked violent act against those who serve and protect the residents of Gloucester Township.”
Police operations continued as normal in the township of 64,000 located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.
“These guardians in blue leave their families, they leave their homes to protect our families and our homes,” Mayer said. “So today, we are there for them and for their families.”
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