New Jersey police hunt suspect in officer's fatal shooting

NEW YORK Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:57pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A manhunt was underway on Saturday in New Jersey for a suspect who fatally shot a police officer during what authorities described as a routine conversation with a pedestrian.

Lakewood Township Police Officer Christopher Matlosz was patrolling on Friday afternoon when he began talking to Jahmell Crockam, 19, who was walking in the neighborhood.

As the officer was questioning him, Crockam stepped back, pulled out a handgun and shot the officer three times, police said.

Crockam, described as a black male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark jeans, fled the scene on foot and into a nearby wooded area, police said.

Matlosz, 27, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Police said he had been with the department since 2006 and was engaged to be married next year.

"Obviously we have someone who has no soul," Ocean County prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said at a news conference on Friday. "This was not a hostile encounter from what we know. It was a routine traffic stop."

Police were combing the area in Lakewood Township, roughly 60 miles south of New York City, said police Lt. Paul Daly.

"Chris was one of our most popular officers," Lakewood Police Chief Robert Lawson said during the conference. "You might say he was the best of us."

(Reporting by Aman Ali, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)

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