JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) –– Police in Jersey City shot a man early Tuesday morning after authorities said he attacked two officers with a sharpened fence post.
It happened around 2:30 a.m. near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Kearney Avenue.
Two emergency services police officers were on patrol when they spotted a 25-year-old man carrying a six-foot long, wooden fence post with a sharpened end, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office said.
When the cops pulled up next to the man and told him to drop the fence post, the man threw it through the passenger window, hitting an officer in the head, authorities said.
The man then reached into the police vehicle, grabbed an officers rifle and tried to pull it through the window, prosecutors said.
The cop and the suspect struggled over the gun, which then went off. The bullet went through the inside of the passenger side door and hit the man, authorities said.
Both officers exited the vehicle and ordered the man to the ground. One officer opened fire, striking the man, after authorities said he refused to show his hands and hid a hand in his waistband.
He was taken into custody and brought to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and underwent surgery. He was listed in stable condition Tuesday evening. The two officers were also treated at the hospital and released.
“If someone attempts to seriously injure a police officer, they will respond as necessary to end that threat. That is something they are trained to do,” Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan regarding the incident.
The scene is less than a mile from where authorities said Officer Melvin Santiago was ambushed and killed as he responded to an armed robbery call at an all-night drug store, authorities said. Other officers returned fire, killing Lawrence Campbell.
Mayor Steven Fulop said there was no connection between Sunday’s shooting and Tuesday’s incident.
“It’s important to point out while the timing was unfortunate, there’s no link at this point to anything other than it’s an isolated incident of someone who wasn’t acting in a sane manner,” Fulop said.
But many people who live in city’s Fourth Ward disagree, saying tension is escalating between police and residents.
Timothy Daugett believes officers are flooding the neighborhood to target, not to help.
“If you treat people like animals, they’ll be animals,” he told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang. “If you treat them like decent human beings, they wouldn’t act up.”
“You can see it, these kids are angry,” said resident Marisa Lawrence.
“I’m not going to live in fear, honestly, but it’s there,” another man, who was near the scene of Tuesday’s shooting, told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane. “I just try not to think about it. I’m here every night so you don’t want that in your head.”
Police presence has been amped up in Jersey City over the last several months.
Fulop and Shea said the strategy had shown some positive results but that any progress on violent crime is fragile and can be erased, at least in the public’s mind, by an incident such as Sunday’s.
“We’re being careful,” he said. “We’re talking to police as well as residents to make sure people feel safe and at the same time creating a fair balance.”
Violent crime in Jersey City dropped 22 percent in the first three months of 2014, compared with the same period a year ago, according to statistics compiled by the New Jersey State Police.
“We’ve certainly been trending in the right direction,” Fulop said. “We took the approach of aggressive police sweeps and visibility and that has made progress. But you also see over time, in any urban area, the bad guys adjust, and then we need to adjust.”
But while shootings are down in the city, statistics show murders have actually increased, Sloan reported.
There were 18 murders in 2011 and 13 in 2012, but 20 were reported in 2013 and there have already been 15 murders in 2014 so far, Sloan reported.
Jersey City resident Cassandra Montanez, 23, said she’s terrified of the violence.
“I walk around with Mace or I am with my brothers because the violence here, it is ridiculous,” she said.
Montanez blamed the violence on drugs.
“All those drugs changes the personality in a person,” she said.
Sources told Sloan police are continuing their investigation into Tuesday’s incident, including whether the suspect was high on drugs or alcohol at the time.
Santiago’s funeral is scheduled for Friday at St. Aloysius Catholic Church.
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