GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (Reuters) - A shootout broke out in a suburban New Jersey police station on Friday when a 39-year-old man who had been taken into custody attacked a police officer, stealing her gun and shooting her and two other officers before he was killed.
One of the officers, Sergeant James Garber, underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to his stomach and was in stable condition, while the other two, Officer Ruth Burns and Sergeant Kevin Thyne, were treated at Cooper University Hospital and released, police said.
The assailant, Eddie Jones III, who had been arrested on charges of stalking his former girlfriend, was killed in the shootout, according to Gloucester Police Chief W. Harry Earle.
After his arrest early Friday morning outside his ex-girlfriend’s house, police brought Jones to the police station and removed his handcuffs while they processed him.
“He then suddenly attacked the officer, tackling her to the ground, striking her on the head, and removing her department issued firearm from her holster,” Earle said at a news conference. “Two officers immediately proceeded to her aid. Mr. Jones opened fire on the two officers.”
Earle said the handgun taken by Jones was a .40 caliber pistol holding 13 rounds. It was unclear how many rounds were fired.
Hours after the shootout, sections of the Gloucester Township municipal complex, which houses the police department, remained cordoned off by yellow police tape. Residents described it as a quiet community.
“It’s really a safe neighborhood,” said Kim Kavanaugh, 47, who lives across the street from the complex with her husband and two grown children.
Her husband Don Kavanaugh, 49, said he arrived home from his overnight work shift about 5 a.m. “About 6 o’clock I saw a bunch of flashing lights. I didn’t think nothing of it, I see flashing lights in and out of there all the time,” he said.
The incident follows several recent multiple shootings in the United States, and comes two weeks after a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
One week ago in western Pennsylvania, a man with a pistol fatally shot three people and then opened fire on police. Three officers were injured in that incident, one in a collision from a car chase with the gunman, another from bullet fragments to the face and a third who was struck with gunfire to the chest but survived because he was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Additional reporting and writing by Dan Burns in New York; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Claudia Parsons and David Gregorio