JERSEY CITY, N.J.
A gunman who killed a rookie officer responding to a report of an armed robbery at a drugstore early Sunday never tried to rob the store and instead lay in wait for police, telling a witness to watch the news because he was “going to be famous,” authorities said.
Lawrence Campbell shot Officer Melvin Santiago in the head shortly after he and his partner arrived at the 24-hour Walgreens around 4 a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said. Other officers returned fire at Campbell, killing him.
Campbell, 27, of Jersey City, was one of three suspects wanted by police for a prior homicide, Fulop said.
Fulop said Campbell was carrying a knife when he walked into Walgreens and asked for directions to the greeting-card aisle. He assaulted an armed security guard at the store and snatched his gun, Fulop said.
According to Fulop, Campbell approached a witness and apologized for his conduct, then said to watch the news later because he was “going to be famous,” then waited for officers to arrive and shot Santiago with what police believe was the guard’s weapon.
“Today was a horrible day for Jersey City,” Fulop said.
Dozens of officers stood single- file at the entrance of the hospital and saluted as Santiago’s flag-draped body was carried into an ambulance.
A handful of younger officers consoled one another as they walked away.
Santiago, 23, graduated from the police academy in December.
Santiago is the first Jersey City officer killed in the line of duty since Detective Marc DiNardo died in July 2009 during a raid on an apartment while searching for suspects in a robbery.