The suspect authorities have been searching for in connection to a Newark shooting that left two police officers injured on Tuesday was arrested after evading authorities for nearly a day, three law enforcement officials say.
The manhunt for Kendall Howard, the 30-year-old East Orange man who allegedly opened fire on two police officers in New Jersey’s largest city a day agosending both to the hospital, spilled into Wednesday after he managed to elude law enforcement who had surrounded the building in which he was believed holed up.
News 4 was at the scene Wednesday when a SWAT team pulled up in full armor to the same building authorities searched the day before. At some point, they found Howard inside, according to law enforcement officials.
The suspect wanted for shooting two Newark police officers has been arrested, Pat Battle reports.
The circumstances surrounding his discovery in the same building that had been meticulously searched in the immediate aftermath of the shooting weren’t immediately clear, nor was it known if Howard had been hiding. He was carried out of the apartment building around midday on Wednesday.
He was charged with two counts of attempted murder in connection to the two Newark cops who were shot after they responded to the intersection of Van Velsor Place and Chancellor Avenue after someone called in saying they recognized a suspect shooter from a gun investigation late last week. The officers went to the building where the caller reported seeing him.
A senior law enforcement official said Wednesday the officers confronted Howard in the building’s parking lot — at which point he allegedly pulled out a gun and shot them.
Confusion over whether he was on the roof at some point in part came from residents who saw the two wounded officers go down and thought the sound of gunshots came from above, according to the senior law enforcement official. The official acknowledged there was also confusion about where Howard went after opening fire — if he ran into the roughly 80-unit building, as they initially believed, or ran in and then back out — or ran around the building and fled the scene.
Authorities didn’t share when or how Howard got into the apartment building and wouldn’t say exactly where he was found, or whether someone was helping him evade capture.
A blue bag Howard was seen carrying in surveillance footage connected to last Friday’s shooting in the area was recovered in the parking lot, the senior official said. Multiple personal items belonging to him were inside.
Those who know him and spoke to police described him as a bit “off” recently, suggesting he may be suffering from mental health issues, the senior law enforcement official said.
A shooting in Newark — New Jersey’s largest city — by an individual with a long gun has left at least one police officer injured, according to a law enforcement source.
Also unclear: How much time confusion over Howard’s whereabouts immediately after the shooting may have cost the investigation. Law enforcement officials had said they believed they had him surrounded in a building, declaring the scene secure even as they worked to bring him into custody.
Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Frage said every floor of the large building had to be evacuated, and law enforcement went floor-by-floor to get residents out as they searched for the gunman. Hours later, they didn’t have him. It’s not clear how he escaped the perimeter. Frage said there were “many entrances and exit points,” including open-air areas and fire escapes. He also said police were looking at surveillance tapes for insight.
According to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II, the search and evacuation conducted stretched over a seven-hour period. However, it is not uncommon for authorities to have gone back to the scene given that it is an ongoing investigation.
“In terms of the building itself, that was still an active crime scene,” Stephens said. “It is not unusual for law enforcement to not release that building — so to speak — and to go back and forth…looking for additional evidence.”
Meanwhile, one of the the two officers he allegedly shot Wednesday was released from the hospital evening. Officer Jabril Paul’s wheelchair was surrounded by family and dozens of men and women in uniform cheering him on, as he said he was “happy to be alive. “
“We owe you so much brother. We appreciate you. We appreciate the work that you did. You’re a hero today,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
Authorities said the other officer would remain hospitalized for a few more days while recovering. Fragé said both officers injured have just “1.5 years on the job.”
One of the officers was shot in the face, with the bullet traveling down to his shoulder, while the other was shot in the leg, Frage said. Video from Tuesday showed other cops at the scene helping one of the injured officers into a patrol car which then rushed him to the hospital. A woman also stopped her car and tried to stop the bleeding of one of the injured officers and bring him to safety, according to Baraka.
“This goes against the narrative that police put out nationwide about police and community,” Baraka said. “Our residents in Newark have shown several times, over and over again, that they…work collaboratively with the police department to bring people who are violating the law to justice.”
“We are relieved to announce that the two officers who were shot are in stable condition and are expected to have a full and complete recovery,” Stephens said in a press conference following the alleged shooter’s arrest. “This is an ongoing investigation — if there ever was one. We very recently obtained a search warrant to search for additional evidence which we are sure will provide everything we need forward with this case.”
Gov. Phil Murphy, who was there as one of the officers was released from the hospital, confirmed the capture in a Wednesday tweet.
“The alleged gunman suspected of two police officers in Newark yesterday has been captured and is in police custody,” the Democrat said. “I commend our local law enforcement on their swift action to control the situation & protect their community during another horrific act of gun violence.”
Aside from the attempted murder of chargers Stephens said that the alleged shooter also faces charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka also said he was “relieved” the alleged shooter was finally taken into custody for the safety of all the residents.
“I was extremely concerned about what residents felt as they went to sleep about a person that may be at large in the community, in the neighborhood who shot and tried to kill police officers,” Baraka said. I was glad in the morning that he was finally taken into custody. It was relief for many families in the neighborhood that I actually live in and a relief for citizens across the city of Newark.”
US Marshals and police are assisting in the investigation.
NBC New York’s Chris Jose and Jonathan Dienst have team coverage.