Police officer, suspect shot at Bergen County shopping center

Police took three suspects into custody in connection with the shooting of an officer near a shopping center in Garfield.

Police took three suspects into custody in connection

Police took three suspects into custody in connection with the shooting of an officer near a shopping center in Garfield. (Credit: News 12 New Jersey)

GARFIELD - Police took three suspects into custody in connection with the shooting of an officer near a shopping center in Garfield. 

Bergen County prosecutors say an undercover Paramus officer was attempting to purchase marijuana from a suspect inside a car when two other suspects approached in a second car. One of those suspects pointed a gun at the officer and demanded money.

The armed suspect became aggressive, so a backup team of officers responded and an exchange of gunfire began. 

The officer was shot in the right hip and left leg, and the armed suspect, 24-year-old Rafael Angel Vasquez, was shot multiple times. The officer and suspect were taken to area hospitals. The injuries are not considered life-threatening.

A driver, Patrick Morrell, 21, of Clifton, fled the scene in the second vehicle and was quickly arrested by state troopers near the Essex toll plaza on the Garden State Parkway.  

The suspect seated in the passenger seat, Melvin Guzman, 19, of Garfield, is also in police custody.

Shoppers tell News 12 New Jersey they were caught off guard by gunfire in the middle of the day at a popular shopping center which houses a Walmart and Marshall's. "It's really bad especially for kids and people out shopping," says Monica Justiniao. 

Police have said they will not release the name of the undercover officer.

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