A 23-year-old Jersey City cop was shot while sitting in his patrol car outside a Walgreens early Sunday morning, by a perpetrator who wasn’t trying to rob the store, but was after fame.
Melvin Santiago was responding to a report of an armed robbery at the Walgreens when 27-year-old Lawrence Campbell shot Santiago from close range. Authorities said Campbell appeared to want a suicide-by-cop ending to his own life. Another cop responding to the call shot Campbell several times and he did not survive.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Campbell Had No Intention of Robbing the Store
Officials told CBS New York Campbell had no intention of robbing the Walgreens, even though officers were initially called to the store to respond to an armed robbery. Campbell beat up an armed guard outside the store and stole his gun. While he was waiting for police to arrive, Campbell apologized to a woman in the store for his conduct, but explained that she should watch the news because he was going to be famous.
2. Santiago Was Only 23
P.O. Melvin Santiago just 7 short months ago at his academy graduation ceremony. RIP Melvin. pic.twitter.com/I7Q9P1VlIH
— JERSEY CITY FOP #4 (@JCFOP4) July 13, 2014
Santiago was only 23 years old. He had been hired by the Jersey City Police Department last July and graduated from the police department in December, according to NJ.com. His partner, Ismael Martinez, also graduated from the police academy in December, according to his Facebook page. Santiago was sitting in the passenger seat of the squad car with the door open.
3. Lawrence Campbell Was a Person of Interest in Another Murder
Memorial at Orient & MLK for man who killed Jersey City cop Melvin Santiago @jerseyjournal pic.twitter.com/49GtxbpFlw
— Terrence T. McDonald (@terrencemcd) July 14, 2014
Jersey City Mayor Steve Fullop said Lawrence Campbell was a person of interest in an ongoing murder case, according to NJ.com. Details were not provided about that particular crime. Campbell had served time in prison on three different drug convictions and was last released from prison on January 21, 2014. A memorial, pictured above, was created in Jersey City to remember Lawrence Campbell. The memorial has since been removed, according to NorthJersey.com.
4. Being a Cop Was Santiago’s Dream
Santiago’s mother, Cathy McBride, told the New York Daily News that being a cop was her son’s “dream.” She said:
My son was 23-years-old and he was a good boy. And he didn’t deserve to get a bullet in his head for no reason. For just doing his job. It was his dream and he was living his dream, but at the same time he didn’t have to die like that. All because somebody wanted to be famous. My son did not deserve that.
His step-father, Alex McBride, added, “He didn’t even make it a whole year. I can’t believe it.”
Fulop said of Santiago:
By all accounts, he was enthusiastic, motivated, wanted to be in the West District because he was a true police officer and wanted to be a part of that culture in every single way. Aggressive about learning. … He just really loved being a police officer, with the brightest future possible. So it’s with a heavy heart that we’re here today, to say the least.
5. Campbell Asked a Store Clerk for Help Before the Attack Began
According to the New York Daily News, Fulop’s office said Campbell had entered the Walgreens and asked the same security officer he attacked directions to purchase a greeting card. He followed the directions of the security officer, then circled back to the officer. Campbell attacked the officer with a knife and stole his gun. The New York Daily News spoke to local residents, who heard the gunshots, and said they try and avoid that area of the city at night because business are typically targets for robberies.