A police officer making an undercover drug purchase was shot Tuesday afternoon in a busy New Jersey shopping complex, sending shoppers running for cover as the gunfire erupted.
Prosecutors said the officer was part of a team conducting an undercover drug buy of $400 worth of marijuana around 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Garfield complex that includes a Wal-Mart, a Marshalls and an Applebee's restaurant.
The officer, a nine-year veteran of the Paramus Police Department, was sitting in an undercover car with one suspect. A second suspect approached the car, pointed a gun at the police officer and said "give me everything that you have," prosecutors said.
A struggle ensued and the suspect shot at the cop twice, hitting him in the right hip and left foot, prosecutors said. Backup officers who were nearby returned fire, and the suspect was also shot twice. He is in custody, along with two others.
The midday gunfire alarmed shoppers and workers in the area.
Lena Sarao, who works at Marshalls, said people came running into the store saying there were gunshots outside, and some took cover in the back room.
"We just all went to go hide," she said.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said the transaction "was an average street drug buy," but added that he believed it had been set up by the suspects as a planned theft.