A quiet neighborhood in Edgewater Park was awakened early Tuesday by the unfamiliar sounds of gunshots. Soon, the tree-lined suburban street, which residents say typically sees no police action, had turned into a crime scene.
The shots were fired around 3 a.m. by an off-duty Delanco police officer, Basil Warren, at a man he found inside his personal vehicle, which was parked on the 200 block of Stevenson Avenue, authorities said.
In a statement, Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi and Edgewater Park Police Chief Gene J. DiFilippo said the shooting was being investigated.
They said that after finishing his shift, Warren, who was still in his uniform, drove his vehicle to a house he had recently purchased on Stevenson.
When he left the house minutes later, Warren saw Tysean Fitzpatrick, 26, of Willingboro, in the front seat of his vehicle.
Warren "is believed" to have ordered Fitzpatrick to leave the vehicle, but, according to the statement, it was "unclear at this point as to what occurred next," except that Warren fired his department-issued .40-caliber firearm several times, striking Fitzpatrick.
The vehicle traveled a short distance before stopping, authorities said. According to a neighbor, the vehicle is a truck.
Warren's work history was not immediately available. A voice mail left for Delanco Police Chief Jesse DeSanto was not returned.
Fitzpatrick, a Willingboro native, has a number of arrests in his past - one in 2012 in the allegedly receipt of stolen property, one in 2010 when he was found guilty of resisting arrest by physical force, and one in November, on charges of attempted robbery and possession of a weapon - all in Burlington County.
The blasts of gunshots in their usually placid, and at that hour sleepy, neighborhood jarred residents awake.
Donna Zarzeczny, who lives across the street from the site of the incident, said she immediately called 911. In 21 years of living on Stevenson, she said, she had never before encountered such a violent event there. "It's a quiet neighborhood and this isn't common at all," she said.
Another resident, who gave his name only as Ed, said he was awakened by three gunshots around 2:55 a.m. No more than five minutes later, he stated, about eight to 10 police cars were at the scene. When he and his wife looked out the window minutes later, they said they saw two bullet holes in the truck and a man lying on the ground with three officers aiding him.
"I didn't see him move at all," he said.
Officials said that police arriving at the scene saw Warren giving first aid to Fitzpatrick, who was then taken to Cooper University Hospital in Camden, where he underwent emergency surgery for gunshot wounds and is listed in critical condition.
Warren has been in law enforcement for 10 years, the last eight of which have been with Delanco.
No charges have been filed against Fitzpatrick, authorities said.