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Gunman who shot 2 N.J. police officers taken into custody

Both officers were shot at close range, with the suspect opening fire after the LEOs began questioning him about his involvement in another shooting

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N.J. Shooter

By Jeff Goldman and Richard Cowen
nj.com

NEWARK, N.J. — A 30-year-old man accused of shooting and wounding two Newark police officers serving an arrest warrant at an city apartment building Tuesday has been arrested, ending a massive manhunt that spanned two days and forced residents from their homes, officials said.

Kendall Howard, of East Orange, was taken into custody shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said.

“Within the past half-hour, they’ve caught the guy — the bad guy,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

He also said there is “largely good news with those blessed heroes,” referring the officers who were shot.

Murphy said one has been discharged and he will speak with him on the phone later today. The other, the governor said, is in the hospital but in stable condition and he will see him later in the day.

Howard had already been charged with two counts of attempted murder and two weapons offenses, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said. A briefing on the arrest has been scheduled for 3 p.m.

At about 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, a platoon of Newark SWAT team members arrived and entered the front of the apartment building at 25 Van Velsor. Then swarms of police began arriving from every direction, some of them in uniform, others in plainclothes, some in SWAT gear.

Police cleared the area of media and bystanders, and set up a wall of police vehicles on Chancellor Avenue and Van Velsor.

About 10 minutes later, the side door to the apartment building opened, and a swarm of police officers brought a man out of the building, pushed him into the back seat of a police vehicle, and drove away.

A short caravan of police vehicles followed up Chancellor Avenue, sirens blaring.

Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Frage was at the scene but did not immediately address the media. The hunt appeared to be over as several cops hugged each other after the caravan of police vehicles left the scene.

The shooting took place minutes after a citizen called Newark police regarding a flyer put out by the department concerning a shot fired on Friday, authorities said.

Both officers are in stable condition at University Hospital.

“Both officers are awake, still talking,” Newark Fraternal Order of Police President Jeff Weber said. “Their families never left their side. They’re grateful they’re still here.”

The incident unfolded around 1 p.m. Tuesday after a caller reported seeing the person in the flyer in an apartment building near the intersection of Van Velsor Place and Chancellor Avenue.

Two uniformed officers arrived at the building and spotted Howard, officials said.

“They stopped him to talk to him and to identify him, and a violent interaction occurred,” acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens told reporters Tuesday night.

After a brief altercation, Howard pulled a gun out and shot the two police officers at close range, authorities said.

The officers returned fire but Howard escaped.

Multiple law enforcement agencies searched for Howard through the afternoon and evening.

Life appeared to be returning to normal on Van Velsor Place on Wednesday morning.

Earlier, before the SWAT team arrived, Glenn Walker, 61, a resident of the apartment building said he was home with his daughter around 2 p.m. Tuesday when he heard gunshots.

He looked out the window, which overlooks the rear of the building and saw two Newark cops lying on the ground. He didn’t see the shooter.

”I just see the police lying on the ground,” he said. Walker and his daughter then spent the next several hours locked in the apartment. “The cops wouldn’t let anybody out and wouldn’t let anyone in.”

Walker said police later let him leave building and meet his wife on the street.

“Then we couldn’t get back in” until late Tuesday night.

Walker said he has lived in the building for eight years, but doesn’t know the suspect.

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