FAIR LAWN, NJ — The borough's police officers, retired and active duty, along with friends and family honored Mary Ann Collura who was killed in the line of duty on April 17, 2003.
At 8 p.m., people gathered at Van Riper Ellis Church on the corner of Morlot and River Road with glow sticks and an honor guard ceremony to talk about the officer who was shot and killed as she responded to help a fellow officer at the end of a violent car chase that started in Clifton.
According to the police description of the fateful night 18 years ago, "Officer Collura arrived on the scene minutes later to assist the officers involved in the chase. One of the occupants of the vehicle got out of the car and began waving his hands as if to surrender, but then the driver exited the vehicle and fled on foot. The officer from the Clifton Police Department was able to tackle the suspect in the rear lot of the church. As he was reaching for his mace, the suspect drew a firearm from his pocket and opened fire, striking Officer Collura four times, killing her. The Clifton Officer drew his firearm, but before he could fire, the suspect shot him too, striking him twice, once in the leg and once in the arm. The suspect then stole Officer Collura's patrol car and fled."
People with glow sticks gathered at the church and told stories of Collura's bravery and still others told stories on Facebook about how she, for example, rescued a runaway dog. The glow sticks were a special touch to the ceremony because in 1999, according the Fair Lawn Police webpage in her honor, it was Officer Collura’s suggestion that elementary school children be given glowing light sticks to wear at night when trick-or-treating. Her project has been repeated every year since.
Collura was 43 and an 18-year veteran of the force when she was killed.
Police have been honoring Collura each year since her death, but did not do a public event last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.