Convicted Murderer Shoots His Parole Officer in State Office

50-year-old parolee charged with attempted murder

By Jeremy Boxerbaum
|  Friday, Apr 16, 2010  |  Updated 10:59 AM EDT
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Witnesses said the suspect was waiting calmly to meet with his police officer right before he shot him.

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"It was crazy, man."

That's how witness Terrence Cofield described the scene at the New York State Division of Parole offices in Downtown Brooklyn Thursday night after an ex-convict with a murder rap shot his parole officer in the shoulder.

Witnesses say 50-year-old Robert Morales had been waiting calmly to meet with his parole officer, 49-year-old Samuel Salters, when he suddenly pulled out a handgun and shot him once through the right shoulder. The weapon jammed before he could fire another shot, officials said.

Police say another parole officer tackled Morales and took him into custody. They also say they recovered the loaded 9 millimeter Ruger Morales allegedly used to shoot Salters.

"I heard a shot go off," Cofield told reporters.  "It was hectic after that.  People running around and all that, trying to get us out, trying to worry about their co-worker and all that."

Salters was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition Friday morning. Authorities say he's expected to recover.

Morales faces charges of attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer. He was paroled in 2002 -- 23 years after he was convicted of second-degree murder in Brooklyn.

"Oh my God!" said Morales' ex-wife, Elizabeth Morales, in an interview with the Daily News.  "This is unbelievable.  He was doing so well."

The circumstances surrounding Morales' prior conviction weren't immediately clear, but Elizabeth Morales told the News that her husband was convicted for a fire that killed a boy in Brooklyn. She said Morales had always insisted that someone else set the fire.

There are apparently no metal detectors or surveillance cameras in the parole offices on Schermerhorn Street.

Salters' fellow parole officers say that needs to change.

"These are convicted felons -- all of them," one officer told the News.  "There should be metal detectors at every office."

The last fatal shooting of a parole officer in the line of duty in New York City happened in 1985. Queens parole officer Brian Rooney was the victim of a hit arranged by drug kingpin Lorenzo Nichols, apparently in revenge for Rooney's decision to revoke Nichols' parole.

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