Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Newark Police Department are investigating the fatal shooting of an off-duty Newark Police officer.
The officer, William Johnson, 45, of Newark is a 16-year veteran of the Newark Police Department. He was assigned to the Communications Division at 311 Washington Street. He is a father of two daughters.
“Any death is a tragedy but it is particularly tragic when the victim is a police officer – someone who leaves his house every morning and goes to work protecting others. Officer Johnson has served the people of Newark bravely and honorably for 16 years. He lives in Newark. He is a part of this community. Sadly, his life ended on the very streets where he worked to serve and protect others,’’ said Acting Prosecutor Murray.
At approximately 9:50 p.m. the officer was purchasing a slice of pizza at the Texas Fried Chicken and Pizza restaurant, located at 250 Lyons Avenue, Newark, when shots were fired from a vehicle driving by the restaurant. Three people were shot. The officer was unarmed and in plainclothes. Officer Johnson was rushed to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:10 am.
In addition to Officer Johnson, a 19-year-old female with a toddler was shot in the shoulder. The toddler was unharmed. The woman walked to Beth Israel Hospital, where she was treated and released. A 21-year-old male was also shot in the stomach. He is in stable condition at University Hospital. Their names are not being released at this time.
The shooting incident was capture by an interior video camera. The investigation is active and ongoing.
Attorney General Paula Dow said, “The tragedy of this senseless killing is compounded by the fact that the victim, Officer Johnson, was a man who devoted his professional life to protecting the City of Newark and its residents from this type of violence. Our hearts and prayers go out to Officer Johnson’s family, friends, fellow officers, and the entire law enforcement community.
“Right now, law enforcement needs the community to step forward with any information that can assist in the arrest of the person or persons responsible for this shooting, which easily could have claimed additional lives,’’ Attorney General Dow added.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker said, “This crime is a vicious and evil act that will not be tolerated in our community. It is a grievous crime against our entire city and beyond. Those responsible will be brought to justice. Our prayers are with the immediate family of our fallen noble officer and we ask for the help of the community so we can more swiftly to apprehend those responsible.’’
Anyone with information is urged to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office tips line at 877-847-7432 or the Newark Police Department tips number 877-695-8477.
Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said, “Police Officer Johnson was a fine officer who performed his duties relentlessly day in and day out, oftentimes going above and beyond the call of duty to protect Newark’s citizens. Officer Johnson will be severely missed by the men and women of the Newark Police Department. We will continue to work relentlessly to apprehend those responsible for this crime.’’
A $20,000 award is being offered by the Essex County Sheriff’s Crimestoppers program to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest of the suspects.