Sunday, September 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Court for 2 of 3 charged in officer's shooting

HACKENSACK, N.J. - Two of the three men charged in the shooting of an undercover police officer in a North Jersey shopping center parking lot made their initial court appearances Wednesday.

Melvin Guzman, 19, of Garfield, entered a not-guilty plea at his hearing.

Patrick Morel, 21, of Clifton, did not enter a plea, because he does not yet have an attorney.

Bail for both remains at $750,000.

The third suspect, Rafael Vasquez, 25, of Passaic, did not appear in court because he is hospitalized with gunshot wounds to the left arm and left leg, authorities said.

Vasquez underwent surgery Tuesday, and his bail has been set at $2 million.

All three men face charges of robbery, aggravated assault, and weapons offenses. Vasquez is also charged with attempted murder.

The officer, a member of the Paramus Police Department, was "resting comfortably" at Hackensack University Medical Center, where he underwent surgery Tuesday after being shot in the right hip and lower left leg, Paramus Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said.

The officer's name has not been released because he works undercover for the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office's narcotics task force.

He is expected to make a "100 percent recovery," Ehrenberg said, but may need several additional surgeries.

The courtroom was packed with police officers, many in uniform, who came out to show support for the officer, who was shot during what authorities said started out as a routine undercover drug buy.

Associated Press
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