Report: Newark officer who was shot in the neck by sniper, released from hospital after two days; shooter in custody

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NEWARK, NJ – Two Newark police officers who were shot by a sniper were released from the hospital just one day apart from each other, with one of the officers, who was shot in the neck, only spending two days in total.

On his way out of the hospital, the officer who was shot in the neck got emotional during a clap-out from those who came to show their support.

Just before being wheeled out the front doors of the hospital and into an even larger crowd, officer Johnny Aquino was greeted by fellow Newark officer Jabril Paul, who was also shot in the leg on Tuesday, November 1st, while trying to serve a warrant.

In the video, Mayor Ras J. Baraka can be heard saying:

“God is good we’re able to see two police officers alive and well and breathing with us today. Officer Aquino put his life on the line that day for residents of this city that he doesn’t even know. I think the police department in this city did a damn good job.”

According to authorities, Aquino and Paul were trying to serve a warrant when the suspect, identified as 30-year-old Kendall Howard, opened fire from an elevated space, striking Aquino in the neck and Paul in the leg.

Howard was eventually captured after a manhunt involving multiple agencies took almost 24 hours to get him into custody. Now, he faces charges of attempted murder. The mayor said:

“We close this out with people still alive. We applaud you, honor you, you’re a hero to us in this community.”

Governor Phil Murphy met with both officers on Wednesday and asked the public to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.

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Officials praised the efforts of the citizens who aided the injured officers, particularly one woman who got out of her car and tried to assist one of the officers who was bleeding. Newark Director of Public Safety Fritz G. Frage said:

“We can see and hear the shots being fired and they’re there bending over trying to dray this officer to safety. This is the true collaboration and the support that we have from the community.”

The mayor added:

“This goes against the narrative that people put out nationwide about police and community. Our residents in Newark have shown several times, over and over again, that they … work collaboratively with the police department to bring people who are violating the law to justice.”

Both Aquino and Paul have just one and a half years on the job. Mayor Baraka said that he was “relieved” when the alleged shooter was finally taken into custody. He said:

“I was extremely concerned about what residents felt as they went to sleep about a person that may be at large in the community, in the neighborhood, in the neighborhood who shot and tried to kill police officers.”

He added:

“I was glad in the morning that he was finally taken into custody. It was relief for many families in the neighborhood that I actually live in and a relief for citizens across the city of Newark.”

On Thursday, November 3rd, Howard faced a judge and pleaded not guilty to shooting the officers. He is facing two counts of attempted murder and weapons offenses. As of this writing, investigators are still searching for the gun that Howard allegedly used in the shooting.

The two officers were questioning Howard over an unrelated October 28th shooting near Chancellor Avenue and Van Velsor Place when he allegedly pulled out a gun and opened fire on them.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens would not give details on the case that Howard was being questioned about when he allegedly opened fire. He said:

“We are in the midst of this long and very arduous investigation. So, we’re not able to determine fully what’s happened. We have him in custody and we’re speaking with him now.”

Governor Murphy said that the state is “providing resources as requested” when it comes to the investigation of Howard and what happened. He tweeted:

“I commend our local law enforcement on their swift action to control the situation and protect their community during another horrific act of gun violence.”

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