UPDATE: Man Faces Attempted Murder Charge in Sheriff's Officer Shooting
Officer, two men shot in early-morning gunfight outside bar
An Essex County Sheriff’s officer was released from University Hospital Thursday after being shot during a confrontation with two men outside a Springfield Avenue bar, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.
One man, 30-year-old Rasul Burt of East Orange, has been charged with attempted murder, assault and weapons offenses. He was still hospitalized Thursday from gunshot wounds sustained during the incident.
A third man was also shot during the exchange of gunfire and was in stable condition at University Hospital.
“I thought it was a firecracker,” said Shakir Muhammad, who works at a BP gas station about a block from the Mercedes and Mink bar near Springfield and S. 13th Street. “Then I heard bam, bam, bam. When I went outside I saw people scrambling and a lot of shell casings on the ground.”
The 25-year-old officer, whose name was not released, was off-duty and inside the bar early Thursday morning when he got into a “verbal confrontation” with another patron, said Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly. When the officer left the bar at around 2 am, he was confronted by two men, at least one of whom produced a handgun and fired. The officer then returned fire.
Neither the suspect's nor the officer’s injuries were life-threatening, Fennelly said.
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said the officer had served with the Newark Police Department for two and a half years before being laid off. He joined the sheriff’s office a year and a half ago.