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Court Date Set For NJ Police Shooting Suspect

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Lakewood Police Officer Christopher Matlosz is seen in a vehicle - File / AP Photo/Jeffery Hanlon via Asbury Park Press

Lakewood Police Officer Christopher Matlosz (credit: AP Photo/Jeffery Hanlon via Asbury Park Press)

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) – A man accused of gunning down a New Jersey police officer is scheduled to make his first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon.

Jahmell Crockam, 19, is charged with murder and weapons offenses in the death of Lakewood Patrolman Christopher Matlosz on Friday.

Crockam was arrested Sunday morning in Camden after police received a tip he was hiding in an apartment there, about 60 miles from the crime scene. He is due to appear at 1:30 p.m. before Superior Court Judge Wendel Daniels in Toms River.

Authorities said Matlosz was on patrol Friday afternoon when he came upon Crockam on a residential street in an area where there had been several drive-by shootings. They said the two spoke to each other for a while in a non-confrontational manner and Crockam suddenly pulled a gun out and fired three shots into the officer, who slumped behind the wheel of his cruiser, his gun still in its holster.

Crockam was wanted for possession of an illegal rifle and hollow-point bullets from a December case, but it remained unclear whether the officer knew that when he approached him, authorities said.

The slain officer’s fiancee and mother attended a candlelight vigil on Monday night that drew hundreds of mourners. Friends and co-workers spoke of his warm smile, his distinctive shaved head, his penchant for texting jokes to sleeping colleagues at 3 a.m., and the time he turned out the lights on a fellow officer while he was in the shower.

His wake will be held Wednesday. Thousands of police officers from around the country are expected to attend his funeral on Thursday.

(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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

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