The police officer who saved a woman's life at the Woodbridge Mall Thursday night was the best marksman in his academy class, according to the township's mayor.
Ed Barrett Jr., 32, is being hailed as a hero for his action while working in uniform as an off-duty security officer at the mall.
"Very bright and very dedicated, and we're proud of the job he did saving a woman's life," Mayor John McCormac said.
Barrett took the shot after Andres Garcia, 44, of Paterson held a female shopper with a steak knife pressed to her throat after a brief chase through the mall.
The chase began in front of the Hollister store on the upper level of the Sears wing after store security had confronted Garcia over alleged shoplifting.
Barrett had been called to the store, and when he arrived, police say Garcia took off on foot.
By the time he reached the Sears store, he grabbed the female shopper and put the knife to her throat.
Barrett repeatedly warned Garcia to put down the knife, and when the suspect refused, the officer fired a single shot at the suspect's head, killing him, police said.
The hostage was not hit.
Barrett's Woodbridge home was surrounded by police cruisers Friday night after the Middlesex Prosecutor's office identified him as the hero cop.
His father, Ed Barrett Sr., retired just a few days earlier as a lieutenant on the same police force, according to McCormac, who has known the family for years.
The elder Barrett serves as head of the Woodbridge Ambulance and First Aid Squad.
Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY