CAMDEN, NJ—One of the Camden police officers who was shot in an ambush on Tuesday night is out of the hospital.
An undercover male detective, who was shot in the forearm and bicep, was released from Cooper University Hospital on Wednesday, said Rick Kunkel, president of Camden County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 218. Kunkel said the other undercover detective involved in the attack, a female, was shot in the hand and is expected to be released later today.
“They’re both doing very good. They’re in good condition medically, and their spirits are very good as well,” Kunkel said.
On Tuesday night, the two officers were the target of what Camden County Police Department Chief Scott Thompson called a completely unprovoked ambush when two men opened fire on the detectives while they were sitting at a red light in an unmarked car.
One of the officers was able to return fire, and the officers were able to drive through the intersection and reposition their car to allow for a tactical advantage over the suspects, which Kunkel believes is why they were able to drive the attackers away.
“Fortunately the detectives in the car had the mindset of being prepared for anything, and luckily they were in that mindset when these guys walked up,” Kunkel said. “One detective returning the gunfire and repositioning the vehicle is kind of what scared the suspects off and got them fleeing.”
At a press conference on Tuesday night, Chief Thompson saidt the officers were able to survive the attack “by the Grace of God.”
Shortly after the ambush, a van was recovered in south Camden by police believed to be connected to the suspects. Kunkel said that the investigation is moving along quickly, and that good news can be expected soon.
“It seems like they are having great progress in the investigation, its look like they are moving along at a pretty good pace,” Kunkel said.
Today, the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association [NJSPBA] announced a $20,000 award through its NJ Cop Shot Program for information that directly leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack. The New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police along with the local Camden County Metro FOP Lodge 218 will also be providing a $30,000 reward, bring the total reward to $50,000.
"We consider an attack on any law enforcement officer in New Jersey regardless of Union affiliation an attack on one of our own,” NJSPBA President Patrick Colligan said. “We want these dangerous criminals brought to justice as quickly as possible and we are confident that this reward will help.”
“This unprovoked ambush on two police officers was a heinous act that was an attack on our community’s guardians. These detectives are empowered by the public to protect the city’s neighborhoods and ensure the safety of their streets,” said NJ State FOP Lodge President Bob Fox. “We believe this reward will assist our law enforcement partners in bringing these cowards to justice.”
The NJSPBA is asking anyone with information to call Detective Caffarelli of the Camden Police Department at 856-757-7042.
On Wednesday night, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office released six photos of two men believed to be suspects in the shooting ambush. Anyone with information on the men, pictured walking along a Camden sidewalk together, is asked to contact Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Detective Matt McKeown at 609-820-7192. One man appears to be riding a mini dirt bike. Information may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips can remain anonymous.
As of now, officials have yet to determine the motive for the attack. Whether the two officers were targeted because of their narcotics and gang detail, of if they were mistaken for somebody else, one thing is clear to Kunkel.
“Whatever the case is, it was a clear assassination attempt,” Kunkel said. “Whether it was of the officers or whether it was them assuming it was somebody else.”
Kunkel said in his over 20 years of law enforcement experience in Camden, there has never been an incident like Tuesday night’s where officers have been ambushed.