Camden County authorities have released the names of three men wanted in connection with an ambush of two police detectives who were shot during a fierce gun battle while stopped at a traffic light in a high-crime Camden neighborhood.
While an intense manhunt continues for the gunmen, authorities seemed to move a step closer to capturing them and identified them Friday afternoon at a news conference at police headquarters in Camden. They are Alexander DeJesus, 19, of Philadelphia, and Ammar Hall, 26, and Juan Figueroa, 20, both of Camden.
Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson said all three are believed to be in the area. All have criminal records and should be considered armed and dangerous, he said. A $60,000 reward has been posted for their capture, which Thomson said is "a matter of when."
"These are homicidal maniacs. These folks are sociopaths," Thomson said. "These folks don't need to be walking the streets of society."
They face a host of charges, including two counts each of attempted murder, aggravated assault, weapons possession, and conspiracy to commit attempted murder.
The Camden County detectives were on a special detail last week when authorities say the suspects opened fire on their unmarked police vehicle in the city's Bergen Square section. Thomson said 10 to 25 rounds were fired at the officers in seven seconds.
The suspects pulled up behind the detectives at Broadway and Mount Vernon Street around 8:30 p.m., and two got out of their white van and began firing from semiautomatic weapons at the detective's vehicle, Thomson said. At least a dozen shots went through the back windshield and passenger-side door, the chief said.
"It actually defies the laws of probability that our officers survived, let alone escaped with minor injuries," the chief said.
Both officers, a male and a female, were wounded. One of the officers jumped out of the vehicle and returned fire, authorities said. The suspects fled in the van, which was found later that night in South Camden, the chief said.
The shooting, which occurred on National Night Out, drew national attention and responses from law enforcement officials from around the country offering to help capture the suspects. Authorities have not provided a possible motive for what has been described as an unprovoked attack. It was unknown whether the suspects may have recognized the detectives.
"What is absolutely clear to all of us was their intent to kill whoever was in that vehicle," Thomson said.
A few days after the incident, authorities released a video of a "person of interest." An image of two persons of interest was also made public. Thomson said the suspects are acquaintances who were known to law enforcement.
The officers were in plain clothes, stopped at a red light, working undercover surveillance, Thomson said. They were in a luxury model Audi. The area, about six blocks from downtown Camden, has been plagued recently by drug and gang activity.
Both detectives have been on the force for several years and were working undercover, according to union officials. Both were treated for gunshot wounds and released last week. They were placed on administrative leave pending a review of the use of force that will be done by the Prosecutor's Office. The officers' names have not been released.
The intersection of Broadway and Chestnut Street in Camden, near where two detectives were shot.
The incident marks the third time that Camden County police officers have been wounded since the department took over patrols in Camden in 2013 and the city police force was disbanded. The officers in the previous shootings survived their injuries.
The Camden County Police Department replaced the Camden City police force in 2013 in a move that officials said was intended to slash costs and hire officers to help curb crime in a city once ranked among the most dangerous and violent in the country.