PATERSON, NJ - Authorities identified the off-duty Newark police officer who was shot and killed during a robbery in Paterson eary Monday morning as Det. Michael Morgan Jr. and said rewards totalling $25,000 have been offered for the capture of his killer.
Morgan was talking with a dancer outside a 2nd Ward go-go bar, the Sunrise Gentlemen's Club at 3:10 am, just after closing time, when the gunman approached them and demanded their money, said Lt. Ron Humphrey. The gunman took cash from the woman and fired one shot that killed Morgan, police said.
Morgan, 32, was armed but it was not clear whether he attempted to stop the robbery or identified himself as a police officer. Officials said there had not been a scuffle between the officer and the victim, despite earlier reports that there had been.
Paterson police were investigating another robbery three blocks away at Getty and Elizabeth Street when they received reports of the shooting, officials said. The Paterson police found the wounded officer and rushed him to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, which is just across the street, where he was pronounced dead. The woman, who some reports identified as a dancer at the club, was unhurt.
Authorities believe the killer had also committed the first robbery, in which his victim was a woman, saying the descriptions of the suspect in the two incidents matched.
Authorities have described the suspect as a tall black male wearing blue jeans and a black hoodie. Brown said the officer was at the strip club with some friends.
Humphrey said detectives are reviewing police security cameras in the area for clues in the case. The State Policemen's Benevolent Association and the Essex County Crimestoppers each has offered a $10,000 reward in the case while the Newark crimestoppers has offered a $5,000 reward.
Morgan was at the strip club with several other Newark police officers celebrating a friend's birthday, police said. At the time of the shooting, the other Newark police officers already had left in their own vehicles, according to Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio. Morgan remained behind, talking to the dancer.
Morgan, a six-year Newark police veteran, was single. He recently had gotten a promotion from Newark's gang and narcotics squad to its special investigations unit - an assignment he was scheduled to begin on Monday, DeMaio said.
Demaio described Morgan as one of Newark's "most productive" officers.
"He was a real, outstanding cop. He had a nose for police work. He was always in good jobs," Jimmy Stewart, vice president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police said in an interview with nj.com
. Stewart said the officer was a regular on the FOP bus trips to Washington D.C. every year for police memorials.
Authorities quickly combed the area around the go-go bar looking for the shooter as well as for clues.
The fatal shooting has put Paterson in regional news reports on a day city officials hoped to make headlines for something positive - a press conference featuring the of a an agreement to creat the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.