JERSEY CITY - The Jersey City Police Department came out in force today to show their support for one of their own who was gunned down in the line of duty.
Officer Melvin Santiago, 23, was fatally shot as he responded to a report of an armed man at a 24-hour Walgreens store on Communipaw Avenue. It was initially thought to be an armed robbery, but officials now say it appears the suspect, Lawrence Campbell, was out to target police.
Officers lined up at attention as Santiago's flag-draped body was taken on a gurney from Jersey City Medical Center and loaded onto an ambulance. The ambulance was escorted by police cars as it left the hospital.
Police officials say Santiago joined the force just six months ago. He had wanted to be a cop since he was a boy to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, who also served on the force in Jersey City.
Santiago leaves behind a younger brother, mother and step-father.
In a statement, the Jersey City Police Benevolent Association said, "Only six months on the job, Patrolman Santiago had already proven himself to be a proud member of the JCPD... Santiago knew the risks associated with this job, yet he put himself in front of danger in order to keep Jersey City safe."
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said Santiago was "an officer who represented everything one would want to see in a police officer." He added, "I know the entire city's thoughts and prayers are with the Santiago family at this time, and we mourn together."