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March 28, 2007
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Retired N.J. officer dies in gun-cleaning accident

By RUSSELL BEN-ALI
Newark Star-Ledger
 
JERSEY CITY, N.J. - A retired Jersey City police officer apparently accidentally shot and killed himself yesterday morning while cleaning his gun at the city's emergency services unit, city officials said.

Police Chief Thomas Comey said the retired officer, whose name is not being released until his son in the military is notified, was alone when the shooting occurred at 11:40 a.m. He suffered a wound to the upper left part of his chest, officials said.

The 53-year-old victim, who retired in 2000, was hired as a civilian employee of the police department in 2006. He had been working in the same K-9 unit, at the police department's emergency services building on Route 440, where he had served for many years while an officer, officials said.

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said the officer was found in a trailer that was used as an office by the emergency services unit. As a retired officer, the victim was allowed to carry the gun, a semiautomatic pistol.

"There was gun cleaning equipment found at the scene," DeFazio said.

Also, the prosecutor said, the gun's magazine was found outside the gun and it had been holding only one bullet.

The officer was found by another member of the emergency services unit, officials said. The emergency services unit was where two Jersey City police officers were working on Christmas night 2005, before they accidentally drove off an open drawbridge and died.

Comey said he had never worked with the officer who shot himself yesterday, but came to know him after he took the civilian position.

"He was always forthright, excited about his job and looking forward to it," the chief said.

Police Director Sam Jefferson said the officer had received 20 awards in his 25 years on the force.

The officer's wife also worked in the police department.

Staff writer Joe Malinconico contributed to this report. 

Copyright 2007 Newark Morning Ledger Co.

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