Posted: Jul 13, 2014 7:23 AM
Updated: Jul 13, 2014 7:24 AM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) A Jersey City police officer responding to an armed robbery call at a 24-hour drug store was shot and killed early Sunday, officials said.
Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to a call at a Walgreens Pharmacy at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.
Fulop says Santiago was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center. No other details about the officer were immediately released.
"Today was a horrible day for Jersey City," Fulop said.
Santiago is the first Jersey City officer killed in the line of duty since Detective Marc DiNardo was killed in July 2009 during a raid on an apartment searching for suspects in a robbery.
Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified.
The mayor says an armed security guard at the store told authorities that the man struck him and took his weapon. Fulop says police believe that weapon was used in the shooting.
"It is a tragic situation when any officer is killed in the line of duty," Fulop said. "Melvin was an officer who represented everything one would want to see in a police officer. I know the entire city's thoughts and prayers are with the Santiago family during this difficult time and we mourn together."
Jean Belviso, who has been delivering newspapers for 10 years, was driving through the Walgreens parking lot when she said saw a man wearing burgundy sweatpants and a baseball cap walk out of Walgreens. A police cruiser pulled up in front of the store, and the suspect began shooting, the 61-year-old Belviso said.
"We thought he was running, coming toward us," said Belviso, who was riding along with a friend. "He kept on shooting."
Bullets flew through the cruiser's windshield, and other police cars appeared on scene, and officers fired at him, Belviso said. The suspect was shot multiple times, and officers slapped handcuffs on him, she said.
Four hours after the shooting, the suspect's body remained on the ground, about 20 feet from Walgreens' entrance, lying next to a police cruiser that had its back window shot out. Police placed a tent over the body.
Associated Press writer Julio Cortez in Jersey City, N.J., and Associated Press writer Ashley Thomas in Philadelphia contributed to this report.