3 officers injured, gunman dead after NJ police station shooting

December 28, 2012 9:03:12 PM PST
A man who had been arrested for allegedly stalking an ex-girlfriend overpowered an officer inside a police station, grabbed her gun and shot her and two other officers before being killed by police early Friday, authorities said.

All three wounded officers were expected to recover.

Eddie Jones III, 39, of Willingboro, overpowered Officer Ruth Burns inside the station in Gloucester Township, a Philadelphia suburb, police said. He fired at her and two officers who had been in a nearby room and came rushing to aid their colleague. The two officers fired on Jones, killing him.

"This morning, the reality of a cruel world fell upon our doorstep," said Mayor David Mayer. "We thank God our officers are expected to fully recover."

Sgt. James Garber, a 13 year veteran, was shot multiple times and underwent emergency surgery for a gunshot wound to the abdomen; his life was saved by a bulletproof vest. He also suffered a graze wound to the head.

Sgt. Kevin Thyne, an 8 year veteran, was shot in his duty belt. Rookie Officer Ruth Burns was shot in the foot.

Jones, a civilian employee of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, had been arrested for stalking the home of a former girlfriend after a caller told police they saw a suspicious man lurking at about 1 a.m.

He was brought back to police headquarters and when his handcuffs were removed for a brief period during processing, he lunged at Burns, knocking her down and taking her weapon, police Chief Harry Earle said.

"As part of standard practices in many cases, the handcuffs are removed for a brief time from Mr. Jones, and he suddenly attacked the officer; tackling her to the ground, striking her on the head, and removing her department issued gun from her holster," explained Chief Earle.

The suspect "unleashed a barrage of gunfire" at the officers, Earle said. Jones was struck multiple times by return fire and was pronounced dead at the scene, the chief said.

Gloucester Township's mayor says the officers have the thanks of a grateful community.

Family members were escorted by police into Cooper University Hospital to check on their loved ones. Countless other officers and community members also came to show their support.

The three officers are recovering from their injuries Friday night; two of them have been released from the hospital.

Sgt. Garber is currently listed in stable condition.

"These guardians in blue leave their families and leave their homes and their families to protect our homes. So today we are there for them and for their families," said Mayor David Mayer.

The shooting will be reviewed by the state attorney general, as is customary with all shootings involving police officers. But Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk said initial evidence shows that the officers responded to gunfire that was initiated by the suspect, and returned fire to save their lives and those of other officers in the building.

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