CAMDEN, NJ — Camden resident Cheryl Grant, 41, didn't’ have to tune into the news to learn about Tuesday's shooting attack on two city police officers and their baby.
She heard the shots herself.
In quick succession.
“It was close to midnight when it happened. I knew right away it wasn’t firecrackers,” said Grant, who lives on the 2900 block of Clinton Street, while recounting the incident Friday morning. “I also knew it wasn’t people shooting at each other. It happened fast. Six shots at the building, and then they were off.”
Grant’s daughter was asleep at the time.
“I’ve been in this house for 40 years and these kinds of things never happen here. Nothing really happens on this block,” she said.
If not for a keen eye, you wouldn’t know the tranquil East Camden street was the scene of a targeted attack on law enforcement officials and their 10-day-old infant just three days prior.
A manhunt is currently underway for the gunmen, who Police Chief Joe Wysocki said fortunately did not injure anyone when they riddled the home with bullets and fled the scene. It is believed that one person was driving and two others carried out the shooting.
But Friday, the block was quiet.
An officer, his bright red face mask the only thing standing out, was posted in front of a home on the street. Three police vehicles — in front, on a side street and in the rear — were parked surrounding it. And cars up and down the corridor had STOPit App flyers tucked under their windshields - asking for anyone with information to call in.
“I'm not a champion of the Metro Police but I do support our policemen and women. Sadly, I think this is a sign of the times,” said Keith Walker, a lifelong resident from Parkside visiting the neighborhood.
“In Camden, we also have a drug culture. It's a very powerful drug culture and it’s designed to keep communities depressed and oppressed economically, and socially,” he continued. “When our children feel they can’t come back to Camden and find jobs, too often they end up on a drug corner. And when that happens, you’re going to have people who are not law-abiding.”
Walker and Grant both said they were not aware that police officers lived on that block.
“Had we known and had other neighbors known, I think they would undoubtedly have their backs,” said Walker. “What’s important is moving and learning from this.”
Andy Jennings, 86 - who was aware the police couple lived nearby - spent his Friday morning washing his car. He was sleeping at the time of the shooting and didn't know what happened until the next day.
He was brief in his remarks: "I just hope they catch whoever did this."
Police spokesman Dan Keashen said Friday that there have not been any new developments in the investigation - besides the reward being raised to $52,500 as of this evening.
Keashen said that Congressman Donald Norcross, Freeholder Director Lou Capelli and Wysocki visited the officers this morning. Both are part of the city’s neighborhood response team and the type of officers’ the CCPD spotlights for their community involvement.
“They both are taken aback to say the least and like many of us speechless. Right now the scariest part of this is the unknown, why did this happen?” said Rick Kunkel, union president of FOP 218.
So far, investigators have not discovered a link between the shooting and the officers’ past cases. While authorities have said the shooting attack is believed to be “targeted,” a motive has not been revealed.
“This is especially scary given the climate we’re in nationwide,” Kunkel said. “And in Camden where we’ve had no incidents like this at all and no civil unrest, we know we have a lot of the community on our side.”
Kunkel said the couple have declined to comment on the incident and is asking for their privacy at this time.