Gary Curtis: Suspect Accused in New Jersey Politician Russell Heller’s Murder

gary curtis russell heller

Franklin Township Police/Facebook {Russ Heller) Gary Curtis and Russell Heller

Gary Curtis is accused of shooting New Jersey politician Russell Heller to death on February 8, 2023, according to The Franklin Township Police Department. Heller, a Republican, was a member of the Milford Borough Council.

The Franklin Township Police Department wrote in a news release that authorities “identified the decedent as Russell D. Heller, age 51, Milford, New Jersey. Mr. Heller was actively employed with PSE&G at the Somerset facility.” PSE&G is an energy supply company. Curtis, 58, had also worked for PSE&G, officials said.

Heller was the second New Jersey public official to be shot and killed in February 2023. Eunice Dwumfour, also a Republican, was found dead in Sayreville, where she was a city councilwoman. Police told The Courier News, “The investigation has revealed that the shooting of Mr. Heller was not politically connected with his elected office or political affiliation.”

Milford Borough Mayor Henry Schepens told CNN, it is a “dreadful coincidence” the two GOP politicians were gunned down a week apart. “The common bond is that both of these council members love their town and were dedicated to doing good. It’s not for the money, because there is no money. But you want your town to be the best it can be, and you donate your time,” Schepens told CNN.

“Russ, my friend, was one in a MILLION,” a woman wrote in a tribute to Heller on Facebook. “Kind, FUN, humorous, boisterous, smart, sentimental, a thinker. I can’t believe this. Please say a prayer for his daughter and his family.🙏”

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Russell Heller Was Found Dead of a Gunshot Wound in a Parking Lot, Police Say

In the news release, a homicide investigation was announced by Somerset County Prosecutor John P. McDonald, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor, Franklin Township Public Safety Director Quovella M. Maeweather, and Bridgewater Township Chief of Police John B. Mitzak.

McDonald stated in the release that on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, at approximately 7:02 a.m., Franklin Township Police “responded to multiple 911 calls reporting a shooting victim within the parking lot of PSEG, on Weston Canal Road, Somerset, New Jersey.”

According to the news release, responding officers “encountered a deceased adult male suffering from a gunshot wound. Emergency Medical Personnel from an area Trauma Center responded to the scene where the male was pronounced deceased.”

2. Authorities Say Gary Curtis Was a Former PSE&G Employee Who Shot Russell Heller Outside of His Vehicle

According to the release, “detectives from the Franklin Township Police Department along with the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, the Crime Scene Investigations Unit, and investigators from the New Jersey Northern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office responded to the scene to conduct the investigation.”

The investigation “revealed that a former employee of PSEG, whom authorities identified as Gary T. Curtis, age 58, Washington, New Jersey approached Mr. Heller in the parking lot, shooting him outside of his vehicle,” the release says.

McDonald said that, at approximately 10:20 a.m., detectives assigned to the investigation “were able to track Mr. Curtis to a parking lot area in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey,” the release says.

3. Gary Curtis Died of a Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound After Killing Russell Heller, Authorities Say

Authorities say that Curtis took his own life after killing Heller.

“With the assistance of Bridgewater Township Police Officers, authorities approached the vehicle Mr. Curtis was operating and observed him suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the news release says.

“Mr. Curtis was in possession of a firearm. Medical personnel were requested to the scene and Mr. Curtis was pronounced deceased. The investigation remains on-going to determine motive. Preliminary investigation has revealed that the shooting was an isolated incident and Mr. Heller was the intended target,” the release says.

Anyone with information relating to the homicide was urged by authorities to contact the Somerset County Prosecutors Office Major Crimes Unit at (908) 231-7100 or the Franklin Township Police Department at (732) 873-5533 or via the STOPit app.

4. Russell Heller Was Remembered as ‘Our Well-Loved, Kind, Hardworking Councilman’

According to CBS News, Heller, 51, “was a council member in the township of Milford, near the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”

The Milford Merchants Association wrote on Facebook, “There are simply no words for the tragedy that took place yesterday as our well-loved, kind, hardworking councilman was killed as he arrived at work. Our mayor and council people are devastated. And his daughter, parents, and family are heartbroken beyond comprehension. Anyone who knew Russ found him to be a joy to be around❣️ We surround you with our love and prayers.”

On Facebook, Heller, who went by the name Russ, wrote that he lived in New Jersey. He shared photos showing him with his daughter.

5. In Early February, Another New Jersey Official Was Shot & Killed

Just days before Heller was killed, another New Jersey official, councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour, was shot and killed in a vehicle “outside her home,” CBS News reported. A suspect has not been identified or arrested in her death.

CBS News reported that she was found shot to death in her car on February 1, 2023.

A surveillance video shows the unidentified suspect fleeing the scene, The New York Post reported.

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