An impromptu public memorial for a New Jersey cop killer – who reportedly told a witness that he would be famous before dying in a shootout with police over the weekend – prompted an outcry from local officials Monday.
The Jersey City memorial included candles, liquor bottles and messages such as "Thug in Peace."
Also, the shooter's wife apologized for telling a TV station that she wished her husband had killed more than one police officer before he was shot dead.
The incident began shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday, when 27-year-old Lawrence Campbell walked into a Walgreens, assaulted a security guard and took his gun, authorities said.
"Campbell did not rob or attempt to rob the Walgreens, but proceeded to wait for the police department to arrive – approximately four minutes,” said an account released by Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s office.
Campbell was caught on security cameras walking outside the store and talking to a witness, “at which time he apologized for his conduct in the Walgreens and told the witness to watch the news, he’s going to be famous.”
Campbell fired into the first police car that arrived, killing rookie officer Melvin Santiago, 23, with a shot to the head, officials said. Other officers fatally wounded Campbell, who had been wanted in connection with another slaying in Jersey City.
As officials were honoring Santiago, a tribute site popped up for his killer. The Jersey Journal reported that the memorial featured two dozen candles, empty liquor bottles and two white T-shirts affixed to a brick wall with messages like "Thug in Peace," "Live Life My Bro" and "SEE U ON THE OTHER SIDE. LUV - DRAMA."
On Sunday, Campbell's widow told News 12, a local TV station, that she wished her husband had "taken more with him" when he died. She backtracked on Monday, telling the Jersey Journal she wanted "to apologize to the officer’s family and to anyone else who got hurt or is suffering for these actions."
City officials criticized the impromptu shrine and Angelique Campbell's remarks as "ignorant" and "disgusting."
“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,” Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea told the Associated Press.
Santiago's funeral is scheduled for Friday.
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