Three police officers injured when they were shot inside Gloucester Township police headquarters early Friday morning are on the mend, according to authorities.
The alleged shooter—Eddie Jones III, 39, of Willingboro—was killed in return fire at the scene, Gloucester Township Police Chief W. Harry Earle announced during a press conference held at the municipal building Friday afternoon.
The shooting incident occurred around 5:30 a.m.—more than four hours after Jones was taken into custody without incident on suspicion he was stalking an ex-girlfriend, Earle said.
While being processed at the police station, Jones tackled and was able to grab a gun from Ptl. Ruth Burns, then fired the officer's service weapon several times, Earle said. Burns had removed handcuffs from Jones.
Sgts. James Garber and Kevin Thyne returned fire on Jones, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities did not immediately say how many times Jones had been shot or how many shots Jones fired from Burns' weapon, which was identified as a Sig Sauer P229 .40-caliber handgun. The .40-caliber Sig Sauer holds 13 total rounds, Earle said.
"Today, our community experienced an unprovoked violent act against those who serve and protect the residents of Gloucester Township," Mayor David Mayer said at the press conference. "We are so very fortunate and we thank God that our officers are expected to fully recover."
Jones was employed by the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) as a civilian communications operator. He was most recently assigned to Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, in Yardville, Mercer County, and had been a DOC employee since September 1997.
"An officer was viciously attacked in our police headquarters and was disarmed," Earle said. "The suspect attacked the officers and unleashed a barrage of gunfire at the officers. The officers responded with quick and decisive action."
Garber, a 13-year veteran, required surgery at Cooper University Hospital for a gunshot wound to his abdomen, Earle said. He is still recovering at the Camden hospital.
Thyne, an eight-year veteran, was shot in his duty belt, causing a laceration to his stomach, and sustained a graze wound to his chin in the incident .
Burns, who has been on the police force for a year, was shot in her foot during the incident.
Thyne and Burns had been released from Cooper by the time the 3 p.m. press conference began.
"I am so thankful that all of the officers involved are expected to make a full recovery," Earle said.
(To read Earle's full statement to the media, click on the PDF above.)
Garber also was shot in the chest, but the bullet was stopped by his body armor, Earle said. He also sustained a graze wound to his head.
All three police officers have been placed on administrative leave—standard procedure following an officer-involved shooting.
Police officers often remove handcuffs from prisoners at various points during processing, according to Earle.
"During the course of nearly all the processing of an arrested person, it is necessary at times to take off those handcuffs for fingerprinting, signing papers and preparing other documents," he said.
The police chief noted the ongoing investigation will include a review to determine whether Burns should have been armed at the time she removed the handcuffs from Jones and was attacked.
Deirdre Fedkenheuer, a DOC spokeswoman, referred all questions regarding Jones' involvement in the shooting incident to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, which is investigating the incident with assistance from Gloucester Township Police Department.
Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk indicated early investigation has revealed Garber and Thyne were justified in their use of deadly force.
"At this point, all of the evidence points towards these officers returning fire," the prosecutor said. "After the weapon was secured from the one officer by the deceased and he fired the weapon, these officers returned fire. At this point, there's no evidence to indicate otherwise."
Earle told reporters surveillance video inside the police station captured the incident.
Police are not disclosing the location of Jones' arrest due to his apprehension being tied to an alleged incident of domestic violence.
Stay with Patch for updates on this developing story.
South Jersey Patch Regional Editor Tim Zatzariny Jr. contributed to this report.