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2 Officers Shot, Domestic Violence Suspect Killed In Trenton

State Boosts Police Presence In Trenton In Light Of Uptick In Violence
Shooting in Trenton on Aug. 15, 2013 (credit: Oren Liebermann/CBS Philly)

Shooting in Trenton on Aug. 15, 2013 (credit: Oren Liebermann/CBS Philly)

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Gunfire erupted as police attempted to serve a warrant in a domestic violence investigation, leaving two police detectives wounded and a suspect dead in Trenton.

The shooting happened around 8:30 a.m. Thursday on Hobart Avenue near Garfield Avenue.

Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini said the suspect opened fire on the detectives as he was exiting a home and the detectives were getting out of their car.

More than a half dozen bullets were fired, Bocchini said.

Investigators said one officer was shot in the shoulder and the other was shot in the back. They were rushed to the hospital to undergo surgery, CBS Philly reported. Both were said to be alert and speaking after the incident.

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Authorities said the suspect was shot and killed.

The detectives were following up on a domestic violence incident that occurred at about 2:30 a.m.

The alleged victim was taken to the police station and a warrant was drawn up for her boyfriend’s arrest. The woman had been “pretty severely injured” in the early morning assault, Bocchini said. He said a puppy also was stabbed during the initial incident.

She returned to the house with detectives at about 8:45 a.m.

As the boyfriend was leaving the house and was at the top of the stairs, the woman said: “That’s him, arrest him,” Bocchini said.

The suspect, who was not identified, immediately pulled out a revolver and opened fire on the detectives, and they returned fire, the prosecutor said.

“He just opened fire, it wasn’t an ambush, if he had been out of the house a few minutes sooner he would’ve been gone,” Bocchini said.

A gun was recovered at the scene.

“When you walk into a domestic violence situation you never know what’s going to happen,” Bocchini said.

Police Director Ralph Rivera identified the officers as Detective Edgar Rios, a 30-year police veteran, and Detective James Letts, a 15-year veteran. The prosecutor said protocol would have called for them to be wearing bulletproof vests but he could not comment further.

The shooting occurred in the middle of an upsurge in violence in Trenton, where there had been 29 homicides prior to Thursday’s shootout. The record was 31 in 2005.

“Enough is enough. We’ve had it,” Rivera said. “We’ve all gotten together and come together and developed action plans.”

In response to the violence, local patrols have been beefed up with state troopers.

“We are taking direct aim at gang members and recidivists who are turning Trenton into a shooting range,” acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said.

Hoffman on Thursday unveiled two new initiatives aimed at driving down crime in the state capital.

The first, known as Targeted Integrated Deployment Effort – or TIDE – is aimed at cracking down on violent crime by increasing patrols in some of the most violent neighborhoods

The Targeted Anti-Gun – or TAG – Initiative is a new arrest and prosecution strategy that brings New Jersey’s tough gun laws to bear on gang members, drug dealers and repeat offenders who carry guns in public, according to the AG’s office.

Hoffman has mandated a zero-tolerance policy for those arrested under the TIDE Initiative, which will effectively increase the sentence imposed on gun offenders.

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