Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik fatally shoots himself inside Clifton restaurant
Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik fatally shot himself inside a Clifton restaurant Tuesday afternoon.
News 12 New Jersey was told that Berdnik was having lunch at Toto’s Restaurant when he stepped away to use the restroom. It was then that patrons heard a loud gunshot. Berdnik was pronounced dead at the scene.
Law enforcement officials flooded the area following the shooting and closed down several roadways.
The Clifton Police Department has turned the investigation over to the Paterson Police Department due to the circumstances surrounding the death.
Berdnik served as Passaic County sheriff since 2011. Before becoming sheriff, he served 28 years with the Clifton Police Department. He grew up in Clifton and graduated from Clifton High School.
“Always, always readily available to offer any type of assistance that was needed. That was the type of public servant Richard Berdnik was,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh told News 12. “We are still trying to process this - it’s clearly something we didn’t see happening. I was with him yesterday. We swore in eight new officers and my last words to him were, ‘Sheriff, get in the picture with us.’”
Other officials also offered their condolences to Berdnik and his family.
“Sheriff Berdnik was a longtime public servant with a distinguished career in law enforcement who rose to become sheriff of his home county. He leaves behind a legacy of sacrifice and service,” Sen. Cory Booker wrote in a statement.
Gov. Phil Murphy wrote, “Tammy and I were blessed to have counted Sheriff Berdnik as a close friend. We will miss him — and his leadership — dearly. And we are sending our prayers and condolences to Sheriff Berdnik’s wife, Monica, their four adult children, and the entire team at the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office."
New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Colligan said it's simply stunning to learn of this "tragic loss."
"Sheriff Berdnik was a true public servant who worked every day with the men and women of the Sheriff’s Department to keep Passaic County streets and neighborhoods safe," Colligan said in a statement.
It was earlier on Tuesday that Toro’s Restaurant owner Huseyin Bayram was gifted the key to the city for his outstanding efforts in the community.
The death remains under investigation.
Those struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts are urged to call 1-855-654-6735 for assistance. Members of law enforcement who may also be dealing with any issues may also call 1-866-COP-2COP.