Patrick Morel and Melvin Guzman, accused in Garfield police shooting, appear in court
Related mediaUndercover Police Officer Shot in Garfield
GARFIELD - Two of three men accused in connection with the shooting of a Paramus officer during an undercover narcotics operation in Garfield faced a judge Wednesday.
The courtroom was filled with members of the Paramus Police Department, the Bergen County Sheriff's Office and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office as 21-year-old Patrick Morel and 19-year-old Melvin Guzman faced charges.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli says the undercover officer was in a vehicle parked in the Marshall's parking lot with a suspect, carrying out a transaction to buy marijuana. Another suspect, identified as Rafael Angel Vasquez, allegedly approached the vehicle and became aggressive with the officer, shooting him twice during a scuffle.
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Molinelli is not releasing the officer's name due to his undercover status, but says he is a nine-year veteran of the Paramus Police Department. He says the injuries were not life-threatening and the officer is expected to make a full recovery.
Investigators believe the robbery was planned. "In my judgment, this was a planned theft," says Molinelli. "They set this transaction in order to do a drug transaction but with no intention of carrying it out."
Narcotics task force members monitoring the buy fired multiple times at the suspect, who is hospitalized with injuries that are not considered life-threatening.
Vasquez and Guzman were arrested at the scene and Morel was arrested nearby.
Bail for Vasquez has been set at $2 million, without the option to post 10 percent. The other two suspects, Morel and Guzman, are being held on $750,000 bail.