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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — A day after a rookie police officer was gunned down in an ambush, mourners came to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial with candles, balloons, empty liquor bottles and messages of love from friends scrawled on T-shirts taped to a brick wall — to his killer.

“Rest easy,” ”Thug in peace” and “See u on the other side” were among the things friends wrote to Lawrence Campbell, who police say ambushed Officer Melvin Santiago early Sunday as he responded to an armed robbery call at a 24/7 pharmacy. Other officers returned fire, killing Campbell.

Visitors to the memorial would not give their names to The Associated Press. But Barbara Jones, Campbell’s neighbor, told The Jersey Journey that the Campbell she knew was nothing like the man city officials say was lying in wait for officers to arrive before opening fire.

“He was a good man. He looked out for everybody on the block,” Jones told the newspaper.

Angelique Campbell, Campbell’s widow, told News 12 New Jersey on Sunday that she was sorry for Santiago’s family but that her husband should have killed more officers if they were planning to kill him. She later apologized for the comments.

City officials lashed out that some residents were grieving for the suspect instead of the rookie officer.

Mayor Steven Fulop called Angelique Campbell’s comments “ignorant” and “disgusting.” Police Director James Shea said they weren’t representative of the city or even of Campbell’s neighborhood in southwest Jersey City, where the majority of shootings in the city take place and where distrust of police is as much a staple as boarded-up houses and groups of young men hanging out on street corners at midday.

“I firmly believe that the people who made the ignorant comments on the TV and the people who put up a memorial to a cowardly murderer who shot somebody in the head without giving him a chance are not representative of the people who live up there,” Shea said.

“We know that because our officers interact with them every day. There is a minority of criminals that makes their job dangerous, but there is a large population up there that they are proud to serve.”

A temporary memorial to the slain officer — significantly smaller than the one for Campbell — was set up outside the Walgreens where he was killed, drawing mourners as the store reopened Monday.

Crime remains an issue, even as the town on the Hudson River across from Manhattan has seen economic improvement and gentrification. Campbell’s neighborhood — and the Walgreens less than a mile away — is the other Jersey City, the one far away from downtown and its glittering waterfront, gleaming office towers and artisanal taco shops.

Police presence has been amped up there over the last several months. Fulop and Shea said the strategy had shown some positive results but that any progress on violent crime is fragile and can be erased, at least in the public’s mind, by an incident such as Sunday’s.

Violent crime in Jersey City dropped 22 percent in the first three months of 2014, compared with the same period a year ago, according to statistics compiled by the New Jersey State Police. There have been 15 homicides this year.

“We’ve certainly been trending in the right direction,” Fulop said. “We took the approach of aggressive police sweeps and visibility and that has made progress. But you also see over time, in any urban area, the bad guys adjust, and then we need to adjust.

“There are people in every single community who just don’t value life and this is highlighted by a situation like this. There’s a lot of reasons for that — some of it is decades of how they perceive police, some it’s jobs, some of it is socioeconomics — but at the end of the day, we’re dealing with it today.”

Police said they are looking for clues to explain why the 27-year-old Campbell, who had previous drug arrests and was released from jail in January, would have committed such a violent act.

Campbell, who didn’t try to rob the Walgreen’s, assaulted the store’s armed security guard and snatched his gun, Fulop said. Then, he told someone to watch the news later because he was “going to be famous.”

Campbell waited for officers to arrive and shot the 23-year-old Santiago with what police believe was the guard’s weapon. Santiago’s funeral is scheduled for Friday at St. Aloysius Catholic Church.

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16 thoughts on “Cop Killer Memorial Incites Outrage in New Jersey

  1. Fuckops on said:

    When pigs learn to respect tax paying citizens maybe then just maybe we will feel a tad bit sad when they are dead. Until then fuck them all for their corruption and betrayal of public trust. Ask the folks who have to live with the APD goons who terrorize the citizens. Ask the black folks in New York if they are happy with the pigs.pigs only serve coprporations not you. They will slap you with a ticket for going one mile over the speed limit b tell u to have a good day robbing u blind. Any pig supporters here are pig cock are useless.refuse and resist.

  2. Sneeki on said:

    Do you all see the picture here…Campbell committed suicide without having to kill himself. You all got one thing right, he is a coward in so many ways.
    He snatched the guards gun, not to kill anyone in the store or the guard, or didn’t rob the store.
    Told the people he would be famous, waited for the police, killed one knowing they would kill him.
    They need to start taking a look at his actions that lead up to this. This guy was clearly looking to die.

  3. The comments from the mother of this coward is animalistic and savage. Listening to her comments, I understand why her son is laying in a cooler, full of bullet holes. Instead of mourning the loss of her son, and the innocent life he took for no other reason other than “to become famous”, she spews hate and ignorance. I would sooner move to Pluto than live among the type of vermin slithering around that neighborhood. Makes me ashamed to be black.

  4. Funny how Blacks can be just as stupid and judgmental of those they blame. Cops don’t respects us? Gee maybe because the criminals are idolized like this, duh. I don’t respect these people at all. If this guy was white they would blame the cops for not doing more and there would be NO memorial. A “good man” would not be robbing a bank, carrying a gun around, or shooting ANYONE, especially a cop. No one knew this cop well enough to say what kind of person he was, so the attitude of universal hatred for cops is idiotic and NOT progressive. Get off the hate train and look at the picture in front of you – another violent criminal is off the street. Good.

  5. Shonnie on said:

    Macolm said in Spike Lee’s version of his life, “the KKK gave up the hood for a police uniform” remember that. The city officals give them guns and they are legal to kill black people and get away with it!!

    • earthangel on said:

      Yes you are right look at Lake County, Fl. They just Fired a Police and the Fire Chief for having ties to the KKK.

  6. Linda on said:

    The majority of cops who patrol urban neighborhoods have no respect for the residents who live there–so, why should we have any respect for those cops!!!!!

    This includes Black cops as well who are often arrogant and nasty towards their own people.

    When cops begin to respect those who PAY THEIR SALARIES, maybe then we will mourn fallen officers deaths–until then……

    • D Pat on said:

      How much of their salary did you pay last year? Stupid comments like this are why we have the society we have. So it’s ok to just shoot cops because your .35 cents went into the pot? And we wonder why society looks at our community the way they do.

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