Thousands Say Goodbye To Slain NJ Police Officer
LAKEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Under a shining sun there was a sea of blue as thousands of police officers from New Jersey and beyond gathered to mourn the loss of their brother, fallen Lakewood Police Officer Christopher Matlosz.
“We’re here to support him and the fellow officers in the state and the country,” said Officer Tim Groves of West Orange.
Like many present, Detective Sergeant Pat McCormick with the Yonkers Police Department didn’t know Officer Matlosz personally. Matlosz, a 27-year-old who had recently gotten engaged was gunned down Friday night while on patrol.
“Anytime you have an officer, especially killed in the line of duty, we want to show support for him and his family and come out,” McCormick said.
“It’s a tough thing to be at, but we’re all brothers in blue, no matter what state we’re in,” said Officer Jose Alvarez of West Orange.
Inside the church, the officer’s fiancée spoke about her unbearable loss, reports CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.
“He was my best friend, my world, my life,” Kelly Walsifer said. “I never could have imagined living without him.”
Walsifer told family and friends about how she wanted to spend the rest of her life with the 27-year-old officer.
“The day he proposed to me was one of the happiest moments of my life,” Walsifer said.
Walsifer described Officer Matlosz as a dedicated cop who lived life to the fullest.
“I’m blessed to have had an amazing fiancé, and a best friend that so many people loved and cherished,” Walsifer said.
A close friend of Matlosz delivered a eulogy asking the slain officer to look over his friends from heaven. Stephen Gibson, a civilian employee of the New Jersey State Police who was friends with Matlosz for 12 years, recalled his friend as “my rock, my go-to person.”
“Today I stand before you and tell you that Patrolman Chris Matlosz was a hero,” Gibson wrote in remarks he planned to deliver during the funeral. “On that cold January evening, Chris paid the ultimate sacrifice. Christopher Anthony Matlosz, our friend and brother, was taken from us far too early, doing what he loved to do: being a police officer.”
The suspected shooter is 19-year-old Jahmell Crockam. Police said when Matlosz pulled over to speak to him, he whipped out a gun and fired three times into the officer’s head. Officials said Matlosz never had a chance to reach for his own gun.
“It’s a reality shock. Everybody can get complacent from time to time and it really brings you back down to earth when something unfortunate like this can happen in an instant,” said Officer Mark Salemi of Monroe Township.
Crockam, of Lakewood, appeared in court Tuesday as dozens of cops looked on. He’s being held on $5 million bail, facing murder and several weapons offense charges.
“Thank God they got him. It doesn’t bring him back, but I’m glad that they got him,” said Jane Colaio, Matlosz’ mother.
“Chris is one of them guys who went above and beyond,” said Robert Anderson, Lakewood Township officer.
“I’m going to miss him so much,” said Eduardo Vega, another officer.
Outside the church were positioned snipers and armored cars. Police took seriously a threat by some gang members to attack New Jersey police officers in retaliation for Crockam’s arrest.
“Obviously like all rumors we are taking them seriously under consideration,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Maureen Lynch Ford.
Immediately following the funeral, a private burial was to be held at a nearby cemetery.
Hundreds of officers in dress uniforms were also present Wednesday, lining the drive-way leading into Matlosz’ wake.
“It was very touching,” said Kelly Walsifer, Matlosz’ fiancee.
Investigators were still tying to determine the motive behind the cold-blooded shooting.