Mayor lashes out over memorial for cop-killer
A person lays on the ground near evidence markers as officials investigate the scene where a Jersey City Police Department officer was shot and killed while responding to a call at a 24-hour pharmacy, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
This is an undated photo of Lawrence Campbell provided by the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Campbell allegedly shot Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Campbell was then killed by police gunfire. (AP Photo/New Jersey Department of Corrections)
The mayor of Jersey City, N.J., lashed out yesterday at residents for memorializing a man who killed a police officer over the weekend.
A temporary memorial was on display in the neighborhood where Lawrence Campbell lived. It included candles and balloons and messages from friends of the man who the police said ambushed 23-year-old Officer Melvin Santiago early Sunday at a drugstore.
Campbell’s widow, Angelique Campbell, told News 12 New Jersey she is sorry for Santiago’s family but that her husband should have killed more officers if they were planning to kill him.
Yesterday, Mayor Steven Fulop said the memorial and her comments aren’t representative of the city as a whole.
“There are people in every single community who just don’t value life, and this is highlighted by a situation like this,” Fulop told the Associated Press. “There’s a lot of reasons for that – some of it is decades of how they perceive police, some it’s jobs, some of it’s socioeconomics – but at the end of the day we’re dealing with it today. When you talk about that situation, yes, it’s ignorant, yes it’s disgusting, but this represents a lot of the challenges we have.”
A temporary memorial to the slain officer, significantly smaller than the one set up for Campbell, outside the Walgreens where he was killed drew mourners yesterday as the store reopened.
“I heard the news this morning, and it brought tears to my eyes,” truck driver Van Thomas told the Jersey Journal. “I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t understand it. This is the type of society we have now with guys whose minds are not right, and it’s a huge wake-up call for everybody.”
The police said they are looking for clues to explain why Campbell, who had prior drug arrests and was released from jail in January, would have committed such a violent act.
Campbell, who didn’t try to rob the store, assaulted the Walgreens’s armed security guard and snatched his gun, Fulop said. Then, he approached someone and apologized for his conduct inside the store, then said to watch the news later because he was “going to be famous.”
Campbell then waited for officers to arrive and shot Santiago with what the police believe was the guard’s weapon.
Other officers returned fire at Campbell, killing him.
Fulop said Campbell was one of three suspects wanted by the police for a prior homicide. Another man being sought in that case, 23-year-old city resident Daniel Wilson, was captured Sunday night, officials said.
Fulop said authorities had been aggressively seeking Wilson for three days.
Santiago had dreamed of being a police officer since he was a boy, seeking to follow in the footsteps of his uncle.
When he accomplished his dream in December and joined the Jersey City force as a rookie officer, he asked to serve in what the city’s public safety director describes as its “toughest district.” Seven months after he graduated from the police academy, he was dead from a gunshot wound to the head.