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Jersey City police officer shot dead during armed robbery

Melvin Santiago CBS New York

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - An armed robber at a Jersey City Walgreens opened fire on police Sunday morning, killing one officer while he was still sitting in his squad car, officials said.

Officer Melvin Santiago was fatally shot in the head responding to a call at the 24-hour drug store just after 4 a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop told CBS New York.

Santiago and his partner had just pulled into the parking lot when the gunman unleashed a number of shots at them, Fulop said. Santiago was sitting in the passenger's seat.

The suspect was then killed in a shootout with other officers, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, Fulop said.

Santiago was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center, where other officers were gathering Sunday morning, CBS New York reports.

"It is a tragic situation when any officer is killed in the line of duty," Fulop said. "Melvin was an officer who represented everything one would want to see in a police officer. I know the entire city's thoughts and prayers are with the Santiago family during this difficult time and we mourn together."

There was a massive police response to the robbery and subsequent shooting. Multiple SWAT teams, from the Hudson City Sheriff's Office and the Jersey City Police Department, swept the building.

Fulop said the suspect attacked an armed security guard inside the Walgreens and stole his handgun, which was then used to shoot Santiago.

Witnesses described what followed the shooting as a hostage situation inside the pharmacy. They said there were a number of employees and customers inside the building at the time. They were later ushered out of the building by armed guards and SWAT team members, witnesses said.

A man who lives across the street from the drugstore told CBS New York he heard eight to 10 shots fired.

"The gunman came out as police arrived," he said. "The gunman came out of the store and shot police, I believe."

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