4 police officers shot in raid in New Jersey home | world | Hindustan Times
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4 police officers shot in raid in New Jersey home

A gunman opened fire early on Thursday on a police commando team that burst into a home during a drug and gun raid, wounding four officers while spraying bullets from atop a staircase, authorities said.

world Updated: Sep 24, 2009 23:17 IST

A gunman opened fire early on Thursday on a police commando team that burst into a home during a drug and gun raid, wounding four officers while spraying bullets from atop a staircase, authorities said. One officer was critically wounded. Lakewood Patrolman Jonathan Wilson was shot in the face during the raid, and was in critical but stable condition at a local hospital. Authorities said they were optimistic he would survive despite being grievously wounded.

"He is in good spirits, and he's communicating," said Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford.

Authorities said Wilson is in danger of losing an eye from the gunshot wound. Wilson is a six-year veteran of the force who is married with four children, including a newborn.

Police Chief Robert Lawson said the officer was shot in the forehead. But because the bullet was fired at a downward angle, it did not penetrate his skull, instead exiting through the side of his face.

Lt Greg Meyer was shot in the foot, and was in good condition at the hospital following surgery for bone injuries. Two other Lakewood officers, Sgt Louis Sasso and Patrolman Leonard Nieves Sr were shot in their specially reinforced bulletproof vests, sustaining only minor injuries despite being struck in the chest. They were treated and released from the hospital.

The suspect, Jamie Gonzalez, 39, was in critical condition after suffering numerous gunshot wounds as police returned fire, Ford said.

He was charged with four counts of attempted murder, as well as illegal weapons possession and receiving stolen property. Gonzalez was to be held on $2 million bail once released from the hospital.

A second man who was inside the house when the shooting erupted also was in custody, but had not been charged as of mid-day on Thursday. First Assistant Prosecutor Ronald DeLigny said it does not appear the second person was involved in the shooting, but may be implicated in the underlying guns and drugs case that brought the multi-agency task force to the house in the first place. At 2:25 am, the task force executed a "no-knock" search warrant at the single family split-level home.

They knocked down the door with a battering ram, entered a mid-level landing and were heading upstairs when Gonzalez opened fire on them with a .357 Magnum from atop a staircase, striking the four officers, authorities said.

Police returned fire and shot Gonzalez several times. It was not immediately clear how many shots were fired.

Authorities were still searching the house on Thursday for evidence in the shooting case, as well as the gun and drugs case. Ford would not say whether any drugs or additional weapons were found inside. Lakewood was once known as the resort in the pines for wealthy New Yorkers in the 1800s and early 1900s. The Rockefellers and Goulds built mansions there. The township has a large Orthodox Jewish population and has one of the largest yeshivas in the world, Beth Medrash Govoha.

In recent decades, the population has become more mixed. Some sections of Lakewood have been plagued by troubles with drugs and gangs.