A Newark police officer was shot in the leg during a dramatic confrontation with an armed robber inside a convenience store Wednesday afternoon, officials and witnesses say.
Employees at the bodega near Clinton Avenue and Stratford Place said the suspect entered the store at about 3 p.m., ordered everyone to get on the floor and demanded money.
One employee, James Harris, ran out, locked the suspect inside the store and flagged down a police officer passing by. That appeared to set the gunman off, according to Harris.
"He was coming towards the door, pointing the gun at the door at me, but he didn't know the officer was right there," said Harris. "So I stepped to the side and the officer stepped in front and told him to drop the gun."
Witnesses who were in the store at the time said the suspect ignored warnings from the officer to drop the gun and fired at the officer. The officer then fired twice at the suspect.
"The guy wouldn't give up," witness Lloyd Darby said of the robber. "He wanted to kill."
Store employees helped care for the officer until help arrived and were praised by Mayor Ras Baraka.
"The civilians, the residents in this area, we want to thank them," he said. "They helped apprehend the gentleman who was robbing the establishment."
The unidentified officer, a 19-year veteran of the force, is in good condition.
The suspect, identified as 26-year-old Donald Easterling, of Newark, was charged Thursday with robbery, aggravated assault and weapons offenses. Bail was set at $250,000.
Information on Easterling's attorney wasn't immediately available.