Suspects open fire on home of New Jersey police officers and newborn baby; reward offered

USA World

CAMDEN, N.J. – Assailants opened fire on the home of two Camden County Police officers Tuesday night, with two bullets piercing the front door of the couple’s East Camden residence, authorities disclosed Thursday.

The officers and their 10-day-old baby escaped injury during the late-night attack, said Camden County Police Chief Joseph Wysocki.

“It shocks the conscience that this occurred,” Wysocki said at a press conference.

“I don’t know why they were targeted,” he added, describing the unnamed couple as “two really good officers assigned to our Neighborhood Response Team.”

“They’re constantly interacting with members of the community,” he said. “We’re looking into every arrest that they have had. We’re not going to leave a rock unturned.”

The male officer is a four-year veteran of the county department; the woman joined the force two years ago.

A CamdenCounty Police car is posted Thursday near the scene of a shooting on the 2900 block of Clinton Street.

Both are on leave following their child’s Sept. 5 birth, Wysocki said.

Investigators believe two suspects stepped from a car driven by a third person and opened fire on the house around 11:45 p.m. The suspects’ vehicle, a 1998 Honda Odyssey with a temporary paper tag, was found early Thursday.

Wysocki said investigators have not determined a reason for the attack. He said police have not ruled out the home could have been targeted by accident.

But Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli vowed punishment would be severe for anyone found guilty of shooting at the officers’ home.

“I want to send a very clear message to the scumbag thugs behind this senseless act,” said Cappelli. “We are coming to get you and you’ll be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Camden County Police Chief Joseph Wysocki, at a press conference Thursday, discusses a shooting attack on the home of two officers.

“If you think you can get away with these crimes under the cover of some unfortunate acts that may have taken part in other parts of the nation or under cover of some national movement, you are wrong,” the freeholder said.

Wysocki noted county police officers are facing additional stress due to unrest in many communities.

“It’s been a trying summer. It seems like cops right now are Public Enemy No. 1,” he said.

“You see what’s going on around the country,” said the chief, who earlier this year marched in a Black Lives Matter protest.

“We keep saying that it’s not Camden. Now it is,” said Wysocki, noting his hope that “this is an isolated incident.”

Rewards of $40,000 were being offered for the arrest and conviction of those who took part in the attack.

Wysocki noted rewards of $20,000 at Thursday’s press conference. An additional $20,000 was offered Friday by the NJ State PBA, which represents law enforcement officers across New Jersey.

Federal investigators are taking part in the search for the assailants, said Michael Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Philadelphia.

“Obviously anyone who opens fire on a private home is a threat,” said Driscoll, whose agency is contributing $10,000 toward the reward offers. “Add to that the possibility that someone may have targeted law enforcement, it poses a true threat to the citizens of Camden.’

The gunfire shocked neighbors on the normally quiet road lined by largely identical brick row homes.

“It’s quite disturbing,” said a neighbor, Farrah Adams, who expressed appreciation for two uniformed officers in a patrol car parked on the street Thursday afternoon.

“The baby was in there,” she exclaimed of the shooting. “People can just be so cruel.”

Wysocki, who said public disclosure of the shooting was delayed for investigative reasons, appealed for information from anyone with knowledge of the attack or the suspects’ vehicle.

“It’s critical for us to speak with the owners, occupants or friends of anybody that operates this vehicle,” he said.

“We have had some help,” said Wysocki, who described the officers’ neighborhood as “a very tight-knit community.”

“We appreciate the support that we have, but we need more help,” the chief said.

Anyone with information is asked to the police department’s tip line at (856) 757-7042, the Citizen’s Crime Commission at 215-546-TIPS, or use the STOPit app.

Follow Jim Walsh on Twitter: @jimwalsh_cp

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