(GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J.) – Shots broke out shortly before sunrise inside of the Gloucester Township police station in Camden County.
“Early this morning at approximately 5:30 AM an officer was viciously attacked in our Police Headquarters and was disarmed. The suspect attacked the officers and unleashed a barrage of gunfire at the officers.
The officers responded with quick and decisive action and engaged an armed assailant firing repeatedly,” said Chief Harry Earle during an afternoon news conference.
Authorities say Eddie Jones was the diabolical triggerman, a New Jersey Department of Corrections worker already in custody after a stalking arrest overnight. Jones was shot and killed by police after the 39-year-old grabbed the .40-caliber handgun of officer Ruth Burns after a brief scuffle and opened fire injuring Burns along with two officers Sgt. James Garber and Sgt. Kevin Thyne.
Garber, a veteran of the force for 13 years, is fortunate to be alive after Chief Earle described his wounds.
“Sgt. Jim Garber was shot multiple times including at least one time in his chest which was stop by his body armor. Sgt. Garber was also shot once in the abdomen and also suffered a grazing gunshot wound to his head.”
All officers were transported to Cooper Hospital in Camden. Garber underwent surgery for his wound to the stomach and is in stable condition, according to a release issued by his department. Burns and Thyne were treated and released with minor injuries.
There is one primary question that many are asking in the aftermath of the shooting: why was Jones without handcuffs at the time of the scuffle if he had been arrested earlier?
“Obviously during the course of all the processing involving an arrested person it is necessary at times to take off those handcuffs whether it be for fingerprinting signing papers and preparing other documents,” said Chief Earle.
Camden County prosecutors are the lead investigators in the case.
Since the investigation is active, they did not provide many details, however they did concede that preliminary accounts point to self defense, according to prosecutor Warren Faulk.
“After the weapon was secured from the one officer by the deceased and he fired the weapon, the officers returned fire.”