Yesterday morning, a 23-year-old Jersey City police officer was fatally shot while responding to an armed robbery at a Walgreens. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said of Police Officer Melvin Santiago's death, "Today was a horrible day for Jersey City."
The Star-Ledger reports, "At 4:09 a.m. Santiago and another officer responded to the Walgreens [at Communipaw Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard] from Bergen and Lexington avenues and were the first officers to arrive at the scene. The gunman, who has not yet been identified, opened fire on the marked police car. Santiago, who was still in the vehicle, was struck in the head, Fulop said at the press conference."
According to the Post, "Santiago, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was just getting out of the passenger seat of his patrol car when fugitive Lawrence Campbell came up and opened fire twice through the open door with a semiautomatic 9mm pistol, officials said. Campbell — who had stolen the gun from a Walgreens security guard — then unleashed a barrage of bullets, leaving a string of 13 holes across the patrol car’s windshield."
And Campbell never even robbed the store: Authorities said he initially went into the Walgreens and asked the guard where the greeting card aisle was, then left. Then he came back, police say, and stabbed a guard with a knife and took the guard's gun. Outside the store, Campbell told a bystander, "Watch the TV news later — I’m going to be famous." Campbell was shot by police and died at the scene.
Santiago was a Jersey City native, and the city's Public Safety Director James Shea said that he was "everything we'd want in a police officer in an urban area in America today," adding that the young man requested to patrol the West District, the "toughest district we have... Jersey City probably really can't afford the loss that we suffered this morning."
Santiago's mother Cathy McBride was distraught and said the killer "deserves nothing ... His name should be forgotten. Don’t give him any notoriety. He killed my son. My son was 23 and a good kid and didn’t deserve to get a bullet in his head doing his job, all because someone wanted to be famous.” And Santiago's stepfather Alex McBride said, "He was an angel... God took my angel from me this morning. I can't speak."