The Gloucester Township Police Department family let out a collective sigh of relief Friday morning upon learning all three officers shot by a prisoner inside the Chews Landing Road police station a few hours earlier were expected to make full recoveries.
"It was an incident no one ever wants to be faced with. They went in with a strong hand and they fought the situation. You can be proud of all three of them. ... They came out on top. That's all you can ask for in those situations," Brian Bates, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 206, said Friday evening.
Sgt. James Garber, Sgt. Kevin Thyne and Ptl. Ruth Burns all sustained injuries when 39-year-old Willingboro resident Eddie Jones III attacked and disarmed Burns while he was being processing on a stalking charge, "unleash(ing) a barrage of gunfire," at around 5:30 a.m. Friday, Gloucester Township Police Chief W. Harry Earle said during a press conference Friday afternoon.
Garber and Thyne shot and killed Jones, Earle said.
"Their actions—the way they handled the situation when it arose—was unbelievable," Bates said. "They fought the fight in its face and won, and that's the ultimate goal."
Garber was the most seriously injured of the three officers, sustaining a gunshot wound to his stomach that required surgery. He was listed in stable condition at Cooper University Hospital, in Camden, Saturday morning, hospital spokeswoman Lori Shaffer said.
Thyne and Burns were treated and released on Friday.
With the investigation into Friday's shooting still ongoing and authorities tight-lipped on specifics about the gunfire, it remains unclear exactly how and why Jones was able to get to Burns' duty weapon.
Still, Bates is confident the proper procedures are already in place to prevent another shooting incident inside the police station.
"I'm not sure what happened, but I know that the standards that were set prior to this I was fine with and the safety of that was fine. I have no problem with the protocol at this time, no," Bates, a retired Gloucester Township police officer, said.
Jones was arrested shortly after 1 a.m. Friday, accused of stalking an ex-girlfriend at an undisclosed location in Gloucester Township. At the time of his arrest, he presented a New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) identification card and claimed to be a corrections officer, according to police. It was later learned Jones was a civilian communications operator for DOC at its Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, in Yardville, Mercer County.
The Burlington County Times reported Saturday morning that Jones was in possession of a loaded gun when he was arrested early Friday. Camden County Prosecutor's Office did not respond to a request to comment on that report in time for this article's initial publication.
Jones removed Burns' Sig Sauer P229 .40-caliber handgun from her department-issued "Threat Level 3" holster, Earle said.
Bates indicated the Police Department's holsters have three locks to make it difficult for suspects to disarm officers.
"I have all the faith in those holsters," he said.
Gloucester Township Patch has filed an Open Public Records Act request with the Camden County Prosecutor's Office for a copy of the police station video—or copies of videos—that captured the shooting incident. Police Chief W. Harry Earle indicated during a press conference on Friday that the incident was captured on video.
The Camden County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing the officer-involved shooting. Prosecutor Warren Faulk said at a press conference Friday that initial evidence shows Garber and Thyne responded to gunfire Jones initiated.