Authorities Still Looking For Suspect In NJ Cop Shooting

LAKEWOOD, N.J. (AP/CBSNewYork) — Police signed murder charges Saturday against a 19-year-old man they accuse of fatally shooting a New Jersey police officer who had driven up beside him and started to question him.

A massive manhunt is under way for Jahmell W. Crockam, who is charged with killing Lakewood Patrolman Christopher Matlosz on Friday. Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said Crockam is known by the street name “Sav” — short for “Savage.”

A Superior Court Judge set bail for Crockam at $5 million cash once he is arrested. A reward for the suspect’s capture is now up to $117,000.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg with more on the shooting

The 27 year-old officer was alone in his patrol car, a routine stop, sitting in his car, talking to a pedestrian, when, police said, that man pulled a gun out of his bagging clothing, and repeatedly fired at the officer, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported.

The officer, dying in the driver’s seat, was able to speak to police dispatch.

“Just a question and answer type of thing that the individual stepped back at one point and suddenly pulled out a handgun a weapon and shot the officer three times,” Ford said.

More than 100 local, county, state and federal officers completed a house-to-house search overnight in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, at times barging into homes at gunpoint and ordering inhabitants to get on the floor.

Ford warned the public that Crockam is considered armed and dangerous.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams speaks with friends of Officer Matlosz

“We have to assume he’s armed and he’s not disinclined to use that fatal, lethal weapon if he feels threatened,” she said.

A massive show of force was on display at Lakewood police headquarters, including a black armored vehicle similar to those used in war zones. Most officers were awash in body armor, clutching automatic weapons, police dogs at their side.

Even before the officer’s shooting, Crockam was being sought on illegal weapons charges. On Dec. 29, the prosecutor’s office obtained an arrest warrant for him on charges of possessing an illegal rifle and hollow-point bullets.

Authorities would not say what type of ammunition was used in the officer’s killing.

A murder weapon has not yet been recovered, Ford said.

A person who answered the telephone at Crockam’s parents’ house in Lakewood hung up when a reporter called Saturday afternoon seeking comment.

Officers were struggling with their emotions, grieving for their slain colleague while trying to remain focused on the task of catching his killer. Several officers at police headquarters worked deep into the night, their eyes red from crying, even as they coordinated strategy.

“Everyone is remaining professional,” said Capt. Thomas Hayes of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. “This really is an intense investigation.”

Lakewood police Chief Robert Lawson said his officers are grieving while still doing their jobs, acknowledging the gut-wrenching nature of their task.

“It’s devastating,” he said. “We are a law enforcement family. This is like someone in your family being killed. All the officers are feeling it very deeply.”

A Facebook tribute page created to honor Matlosz had more than 1,000 followers by early Saturday afternoon. Some had changed their profile pictures to the Lakewood police crest adorned with a blue and black line, and some bore Matlosz’s badge number: 317.

Signs honoring the slain officer were printed and distributed around police headquarters. They showed a drawing of Matlosz’s badge, with the words “Rest In Peace Christopher Matlosz” and “End Of Watch 01-14-11.”

Officers covered parts of their badges in strips of black, in the traditional sign of mourning for a fallen comrade.

Matlosz had just transferred off the midnight shift a week ago. He was engaged to be married next year, and his fiancee rushed to the hospital where he died less than an hour after being shot.

She and Matlosz’s family asked through a spokesman that reporters respect their privacy.

The suspect was described as a black male in his early 20s or late teens, 5-foot-6 or 5-foot-7, stockily built with sunken eyes and puffy cheeks. He was wearing a black hoodie and dark jeans slung so low that gray boxer shorts were visible, according to a witness account to police.

Matlosz was conducting “a routine stop” of the suspect, chatting with him for a few minutes, Ford said, leading authorities to believe the two may have been acquainted with each other before the shooting.

“What was a routine stop, a routine conversation suddenly turned deadly,” she said.

While the suspect fled on foot, a neighbor called 911 just after 4 p.m. to report an officer down. Matlosz was rushed to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where he died in the trauma unit. He is survived by his mother and a brother.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from John Slattery

    he is a piece of trash that does not deserve to breathe one more breath.PIP OFFICER CHRISTOPHER MATLOSZ

  • scorpio

    when they find that low life give him life in prison

  • Uncle Kermit

    Very sad – condolences to the family.

    I mean no disrespect to this officer or his family, but …

    I am tired of hearing how a police officer’s death is more significant than that of a civilian. I find that kind of thinking offensive and very narrow minded. All murders/death are EQUALLY tragic.

    I do understand that many cops put it out there every day – there is great risk.

    But – 1) police officers enter their profession knowing the dangers, 2) they are very well trained to protect themselves, and 3) they are well armed and have backup available at a moment’s notice. Most civilians have none of these advantages.

    When you elevate a police officer’s murder, you diminish the value of the general civilian population. Sorry if some find this objectionable, but that is my honest opinion.

    • richard

      I 100% agree. when ever a cop is killed the police act like its the most horrible thing in the world. When its a civilian then its just another death. I do understand that a criminal that will just open fire on a cop is a very dangerous individual. But its always the same, the cops “HAVE” to catch him. If it is you or me then it feels like,”we will get to it when we can”

      • Just Society

        They represent the law and a just society. If you wish to hold them at a higher standard then any crimes against them should also be held at a higher standard.

        You can’t have it both ways.

  • Pyrofyter

    Where is Al Sharpton? Why is he not consouling this family or speaking out about this officer being shot and killed by one of his people? If the role was reversed and the officer shot this THUG you bet his mouth would be running more than some one with diarrhea complaing about the lawlessness and the violence. Al start helping the Black community and stop dividing it with racial divide through your biased rhetoric. Treat everyione the same, stand up and be a man ahd quit crying poor us becasue we are black. BS.

    • Barack Osama

      They are looking for a porch monkey with a gun in NYC. How hard could that be?

  • silverknockworst

    Another dirt bag does it again, I wonder if the cop was black would this have happened I don’t think so.This racist should never make it to jail like thr old days find this animal and put a bullet in his worthless head. Please don’t bring him in do unto others like they do unto you.

  • Gregg

    Animals ! Again, sure it was an illegal weapon. I believe in Legal weapons but with tens of thousands of Illegal guns on the streets of N.Y. and N.J, this will continue to happen ! Why can’t someone get a handle on all of these Illegal guns ? They are coming from somewhere !!

  • Ellen

    My heart aches for the family of Christopher Matlosz. This happen here in Massachusetts not to long ago with the murder of a Police Officer who was running after a 3 time lifer who was paroled. My prayers go out to Officer’s Matlosz family right now.

  • This really hurts

    Strange how some of you will still think the death penalty is too harsh. If I never hear that this piece of s… was caught. I hope it’s because the cops did the right thing.

  • Seriously

    Bad guys are pro gun control laws. They prefer you defenseless

    • Barack Osama

      seriously…you’re a godd damn genius! whoa. that is some lofty observation there man.
      how old were you when you switched to oxygen?

  • Rev.Al

    These animals need to be put to death…our society is way too liberal and it is time to start taking our country back. RIP Officer Matlosz.

  • Godmother Sue

    This happened 1/2 mile from my home last night. The sky was lit up with so many helicopters. Our neighborhood and surrounding areas must be wary until this animal is caught.
    A mans life is gone, his Fiance alone. When will the rule makers of our state finally enact harsher rules? I am sure that the gun used was an illegal gun. We NEED to find a way to stop these guns from being circulated.
    My neighbors and I stood looking into the night sky, watching and crying. We did not know
    Patrolman Christopher Matlosz but we fekt the grief.
    As of this time they have an ID on the animal that murdered Patrolman Christopher Matlosz. He has warrants out for his arrest. A picture is being circulated. A man is dead because another man had warrants. How sad is our society?
    Investigators said 19-year-old Jahnell Crockam was talking to a police officer one minute, and shooting him dead the next.
    R.I.P Patrolman Christopher Matlosz.

    • Cams Amuku

      Very sad indeed, what has this world come to?

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