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4 SWAT team officers shot in Lakewood raid

(AP) - A gunman opened fire early Thursday on aSWAT team that burst into a home during a drug and gun raid,wounding four officers while spraying bullets from atop astaircase, authorities said. One officer

News 12 Staff

Sep 26, 2009, 9:41 PM

Updated 5,406 days ago

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(AP) - A gunman opened fire early Thursday on aSWAT team that burst into a home during a drug and gun raid,wounding four officers while spraying bullets from atop astaircase, authorities said. One officer was critically wounded.
Lakewood Patrolman Jonathan Wilson was shot in the face duringthe raid, and was in critical but stable condition at a localhospital. Authorities said they were optimistic he would survivedespite being grievously wounded.
"He is in good spirits, and he's communicating," said OceanCounty Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford.
Authorities said Wilson is in danger of losing an eye from thegunshot wound. Wilson is a six-year veteran of the force who ismarried with four children, including a newborn.
Police Chief Robert Lawson said the officer was shot in theforehead. But because the bullet was fired at a downward angle, itdid not penetrate his skull, instead exiting through the side ofhis face.
Lt. Greg Meyer was shot in the foot, and was in good conditionat the hospital following surgery for bone injuries.
Two other Lakewood officers, Sgt. Louis Sasso and PatrolmanLeonard Nieves Sr. were shot in their specially reinforcedbulletproof vests, sustaining only minor injuries despite beingstruck in the chest. They were treated and released from thehospital.
The suspect, Jamie Gonzalez, 39, was in critical condition aftersuffering numerous gunshot wounds as police returned fire, Fordsaid.
He was charged with four counts of attempted murder, as wellillegal weapons possession and receiving stolen property. The .357Magnum used to shoot the officers was reported stolen from SouthCarolina, Ford said.
Gonzalez was to be held on $2 million bail once released fromthe hospital.
A second man who was inside the house when the shooting eruptedalso was in custody, but had not been charged as of middayThursday. First Assistant Prosecutor Ronald DeLigny said it doesnot appear the second person was involved in the shooting, but maybe implicated in the underlying guns and drugs case that broughtthe multi-agency task force to the house in the first place.
At 2:25 a.m., the task force consisting of officers from thefederal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, New Jersey StatePolice, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and Lakewood policeexecuted a "no-knock" search warrant at the single familysplit-level home.
They knocked down the door with a battering ram, entered amid-level landing and were heading upstairs when Gonzalez openedfire on them from atop a staircase, striking the four officers,authorities said.
Police returned fire and shot Gonzalez several times. It was notimmediately clear how many shots were fired.
Authorities were still searching the house Thursday. DeputyChief Michael Mohel, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, saidthe search for weapons and drugs in the house probably would not becompleted until Friday.
"Right now we're focused on collecting forensic evidence in theshooting case," he said.
Ford would not characterize the underlying drug and weapons caseother than to say it was "big enough to attract the attention ofthe task force."
Neighbors said they had noticed numerous cars pulling up to thehouse then quickly leaving after the occupants entered and left thehouse.
"It's not the same world it used to be, people killing eachother all the time," said neighbor Robin Kumar. "Police are hereto protect us; why would you do such a thing?"
The shooting comes more than two months after Jersey City policeDetective Marc DiNardo was shot in the face storming an apartmentwhere two armed robbery suspects were holed up. Four other officerswere wounded in the gun battle and the suspects were killed.
DiNardo was taken off life support and pronounced dead one daybefore his 38th birthday.


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