Two police officers critically wounded in a wild shootout in northern New Jersey never got off a shot in the confrontation, officials said Friday.
Peter Nalbach, deputy chief of the Jersey City Police Department, said suspect Hassan Shakur opened fire with a tactical shotgun from 5 feet away as soon as the door to his apartment was smashed open by a police battering ram. Buckshot and solid slugs from Shakur's 12-gauge weapon tore into officers Marc DiNardo and Michael Camacho as the door swung open, but they never fired their weapons, Nalbach said.
"He never got a chance with his shotgun - never fired a round," Nalbach said of DiNardo, the SWAT team's designated "shotgun man."
Camacho, who was carrying a shield, and Dinardo, were hit immediately and went down. The 35-year-old officer carrying the battering ram, Frank Molina, picked up the shield, which helped absorb another blast from the Shakur's shotgun.
"If you get hit by a shotgun blast from that close, you are going down, shield or no shield," Nalbach said. "It was very tight quarters."
Molina, who was hit in the back, is expected to be released from Jersey City Medical Center later Friday.
Police continue to hold a vigil at the hospital for DiNardo and Molina, who are listed in critical condition. They were among eight officers wounded in the Thursday shootout that left two armed robbery suspects dead.
DiNardo, 37, was shot in the left side of the face. Authorities said DiNardo was still not "out of the woods." The officer had no signs of life when he was brought in and had to be revived several times.
"Everybody's upbeat. They're looking for him to pull out of it," Jersey City Police Director Sam Jefferson said Friday
Camacho, 25, who was shot in the neck, had improved to the point where doctors were considering removing a breathing tube so he could breathe on his own, Jefferson said.
Thursday's shootout erupted during a stakeout in the Greenville section of Jersey City, after the suspects emerged to move their car to make way for street sweeping operations. Police said Shakur was hiding a pump-action shotgun under a monk's robe when police approached him in the street at about 5:15 a.m. That initial exchange of fire left one Jersey City police officer with a gunshot wound to the leg.
Shakur and his companion took shelter in a nearby apartment where they'd been staying.
The shootout ended when SWAT officers fought their way into a third-floor apartment where the suspects had taken cover at about 6:45 a.m. The officers were met by shotgun blasts that ripped through the apartment building's walls and doors. Their initial entry attempt was beaten back, Nalbach said, leaving four more officers with gunshot wounds. After the wounded were placed in waiting ambulances, the second push was successful.
Shakur, 32, and Amanda Anderson, 22, were pronounced dead at the scene. They had been wanted in connection with a June 18 armed robbery in Jersey City, where a man was shot in the stomach with the same shotgun, police said. They also were suspected of a similar robbery in South Carolina
Jefferson said the release and publishing of a surveillance video from the June 18 robbery led to "a lot of calls, from all over" from people who recognized the pair, including at least one relative of Anderson.
He said they may have been expecting a confrontation with police.
"Who comes out to move their vehicle with a shotgun? They knew they were being hunted, and they were ready for anything," Jefferson said.
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