PATERSON — A two-day manhunt for the gunman who killed an off-duty Newark police detective outside a strip club here ended early Wednesday morning at a hotel in Philadelphia.
Police arrested Jerome Wright, 24, the alleged shooter, and his girlfriend, Nashali Gadson, 19, around 3 a.m. , authorities announced at a news briefing Wednesday afternoon at the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.
Camelia M. Valdes, the county prosecutor, said Wright, of Paterson, and Gadson, of Newark, were found at the hotel after Wright was identified on surveillance tape using a stolen credit card and by a tipster who knew him.
The two were charged with felony murder, three counts of armed robbery and weapons offenses, said Valdes.
Police did not release details about what role Gadson played in the homicide.
Flanked by Valdes and other law enforcement officials, Newark Mayor Cory Booker referred to Wright and Gadson as "two-bit criminals" who took the life of a "hero."
"The city of Newark is wounded," he said. "This is a man who organized his life around his craft … who was thoroughly a police officer and, now, we'll be burying one of America's greatest."
Valdes, who said the robbery and murder were caught on surveillance video, detailed the crimes and the duo's capture to news reporters.
She said Morgan, 32, who lived in Belleville and Newark, was outside the Sunrise Lounge on Straight Street with a woman, shortly after 3 a.m. Monday, when Wright got out of a car, approached the two, brandished a handgun and demanded cash.
She said Morgan tried to ward off the robber and protect the woman by reaching for his off-duty gun. The woman, whose name, age and relation to Morgan were not released, was not harmed, according to Valdes.
After shooting Morgan, Wright allegedly took the woman's belongings and Morgan's wallet, including his police identification, and returned to the car.
But 20 minutes before approaching Morgan and the woman, Wright robbed a 32-year-old woman at gunpoint a few blocks from the club and took her credit cards, cell phone and money, according to Valdes. The woman's name was not released.
A few hours later after both incidents, Wright used a credit card, taken from the first robbery, at a Foot Locker store in Newark and was captured on surveillance video. The 32-year-old woman then identified him as her assailant, said Valdes.
On Tuesday, police and that's apparently when the tipster called police about Wright. The stills show Wright and another man, but authorities declined to comment on what role, if any, the second man had in the killing or robberies.
At the briefing, Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said he spoke with Morgan's relatives Wednesday morning to tell them about the arrests, "Words can't describe the elation of the family."
The duo were in custody Wednesday in Pennsylvania, but were expected to be extradited to New Jersey by week's end. Valdes said bail was set at $1.5 million for Wright, but bail had not been set for Gadson.
If convicted, both face 30 years to life in prison, according to Valdes.
Morgan's funeral is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Saint Lucy's Roman Catholic Church in Newark.