JERSEY CITY, N.J. (PIX11) -- More questions arise in the wake of the shooting death of rookie Jersey City cop Melvin Santiago early Sunday morning. Perhaps chief among the questions investigators try to answer now is how did the man who some of them observed kill Santiago manage to pull the murder weapon free from the holster of an armed security guard.
That act strongly shows premeditation, law enforcement sources tell PIX11 News, as does a statement by accused shooter Lawrence Campbell, 27, a split second before pulling the trigger on the rookie cop. According to an eyewitness, Campbell said to "watch the news, I'm going to be famous," and then shot Officer Santiago in the head at point blank range.
At the location where it all happened, in the parking lot of a Walgreen's drugstore on Communipaw Avenue at John F. Kennedy Boulevard, a makeshift memorial to the six month veteran officer grew throughout the day and the night Monday, as word about his fate spread through the community.
Also, with each passing minute, more people stopped by the grouping of candles, balloons, and photos of Santiago. Many people made the sign of the cross, other s cried. Some left sympathy cards.
"It breaks my heart," said State Assemblyman Charles Mainor, (D) Jersey City. He is a 25 year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department, and noted that this fatal shooting marks at least two anniversaries that are difficult to face. One, Santiago was shot almost exactly a year to the day he was offered a position with JCPD. Two, it happened almost exactly five years since the department lost its last officer in the line of duty, Detective Marc Di Nardo.
Meanwhile, other personnel from the Jersey City Police Department were very busy. On Sunday night, they arrested Daniel Wilson, 23. He'd been wanted in connection to an earlier homicide in which Campbell was also suspected.
Detectives from the department were spotted going into the apartment of Pierre Monsanto on Monday afternoon. He was the security guard standing watch in the 24-hour Walgreens, in front of which Santiago ended up being killed. Investigators wanted to interview Monsanto further following the incident in which his gun was used.
There was also a bullet hole, with an evidence tag affixed under it, in the driver's side door of Monsanto's car. It was visibly the result of the shootout with Campbell.
According to police, around 4:30 Sunday, after Lawrence Campbell had entered the store and asked Monsanto where the greeting cards were, Campbell sneaked up behind the guard, brandishing a knife. Campbell severely beat Monsanto, 58, and took the guard's gun.
Investigators say that Campbell then walked out in front of the store and shot the first cop to respond to the emergency. That was Ofcr. Santiago.
The other responding officers opened fire on Campbell, killing him. The man who'd already served two terms behind bars on drug charges, and who was suspected of the other murder, appeared intent to not be taken alive.
But also deceased, of course, is Ofcr. Santiago. A police cruiser remains situated around the clock in front of his family's apartment building on Jersey City's West Side, the same precinct where their son had served for half a year after graduating from the police academy.
Now they prepare his final arrangements There will be a visitation on Thursday at the McLaughlin Funeral Home at 625 Pavonia Ave. in Jersey City from 1:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Then, the Jersey City Police Department will hold Santiago's funeral mass.
It will be led by a procession of officers down Kennedy Boulevard, through Lincoln Park to St. Aloysius Church for an 11:00 a.m. funeral mass.
Santiago will be buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington. The interment ceremony will be closed to the public.