On the early morning of July 13th,2014, Jersey City Police Officer Melvin Santiago was fatally wounded in the line of duty.
According to various reports based on a press release from the Jersey City Mayor’s office, Santiago, 23, responded to the Walgreens on Communipaw Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard for an armed robbery call.
The shooter, identified as Lawrence Campbell, 27, of Grant Avenue, initiated the violence by assaulting an armed security officer with a knife, taking his firearm in the process.
Santiago, responding to the call, was shot at close range arriving to the scene. Campbell fired at other responding officers but was killed as police returned fire.
Before officers arrived, Campbell apologized to a witness and said to “watch the news” and that “he is going to be famous.”
Campbell was also identified by police as a possible suspect in a prior homicide in Jersey City.
Richard Rivera of the National Coalition of Latino Officers, who is also an ex-West New York police officer that has a private investigator’s license, told Hudson County View that members of the organization have been with Santiago’s body all day, including the donation of his organs.
Rivera also added that there was “certainly potential for suicide by cop” in the death of Santiago.
Given the circumstances known, and according to an FBI document from the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, Campbell could fit the profile of a “Suicide by Cop.”
The document lays out 16 indicators of a potential “Suicide by Cop,” and says “a combination of any of those factors should be considered evidence of this possible form of death, especially if the individual confronts the authorities in a way that could bring about his own death.”
One indicator, in addition to confronting authorities in way that could bring about his own death, includes expressing he wanted to “go out in a big way.”
Other indicators could include “feelings of hopelessness and helplessness” or “killing a significant other in his life” related to a prior homicide case in which he was a suspect, as well as his “socio-economic background.”
Rivera also noted that Santiago’s death was “an absolute tragedy for the law enforcement community, particularly in Hudson County.”
Esther Wintner, a public safety advocate and former Ward B city council candidate who lives nearby said “Today is a very sad day for the Jersey City community… this has been a loss for all of us.”
As of Sunday evening, no Jersey City elected officials or members of law enforcement have given any indication this incident was an act of “Suicide by Cop.”