Newark police officer shot in leg during robbery; Suspect charged

N.J. Burkett reports from Newark.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
A Newark Police Department officer was shot in the leg during an armed robbery Wednesday afternoon.

The injured officer was rushed to the trauma center in a patrol car with a single gunshot wound in his leg. The gunman, identified as 26-year-old Donald Easterling, arrived in an ambulance and was treated in the same emergency room under heavy guard.

"The guy wouldn't give up, he wanted to kill, whatever he wanted to do he wanted to do something, I don't know what but he wouldn't obey the police, he wouldn't do none of that," an eyewitness said.

Witnesses say Easterling burst into a tiny convenience store on Clinton Avenue and pulled out a .09-mm handgun.

Store owner James Harris quickly flagged down a passing patrol car.

"I heard him pull out a gun and tell everybody to get on the floor," Harris said. "I went out the door and there was a cop right there and I flagged him down."

As officers approached the store, there was a confrontation with Easterling, and the 19-year veteran of the police department was shot. The suspect also was shot.

Coworkers and customers told Eyewitness News that the robbery incident was over seconds after backup arrived.

"He went down," worker Kareem Baxter said. "He let go a shot, and the rest was history."

The officer was treated and released from the hospital. Mayor Ras Baraka thanked the Good Samaritans in addition to the responders.

"The civilians, the other residents in this area, we also want to thank them," Baraka said. "They helped apprehend the gentleman who was robbing the establishment."



Easterling, of Newark, is charged with robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Bail was set at $250,000.

That investigation is active and ongoing.

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