A veteran Camden police officer was in
serious but stable condition today after being shot or stabbed five
times in a street confrontation with a naked, knife-wielding man.
The man was shot and killed by
Rominita Rivera, 45, a 15-year
veteran of the Camden Police Department, suffered at least four
gunshot wounds: a graze wound to the head, two to the shoulder and
one to the forearm. She had another wound to her leg, but officials
said it wasn't clear if that was a stab wound or a gunshot injury.
Police were trying to determine if
Rivera was shot by her own gun after it was taken from her by her
assailant or if she was struck by bullets fired by the other
The violence in the 900 block of
Morton Street occurred around 8 a.m., after police responded to 911
calls about a naked man with a knife who had stabbed one man and was
Lamont Morton, 19, who neighbors
said lived at 946 Morton St., apparently got in a heated dispute
with a man and several women in the house, Acting Camden County
Prosecutor Joshua M. Ottenberg said. Morton stabbed the other man,
William Custis, before the argument spilled into the street and
police were called, Ottenberg said. Custis was later treated and
released at a nearby hospital.
Morton apparently went back into
the house and got another knife and "removed his clothes, for some
reason," Ottenberg said.
Rivera was the first officer to
arrive on the scene and she confronted Morton, with her gun drawn.
The officer fired her gun when Morton attacked her, Ottenberg said,
but he was able to take the gun and was on top of her when he was
shot by an officer identified by police sources as Dexter Miller,
42, an 18-year veteran of the force.
In all, 18 shots were fired during
the brief struggle, nine from each officer's gun, Ottenberg said.
"We're not sure who shot who or how
it happened," Ottenberg told reporters. Investigators were hoping to
interview Rivera later in the day; she was awake and talking at the
hospital, police chief Ed Hargis said.
"Preliminarily, it looks like she
may not have had enough time to do anything but what she did,"
Ottenberg said. "It looks like the officer acted appropriately."
Rivera is married and the mother of
two children, police said. She is the first Camden officer to be
shot in the line of duty since Daniel Vautier was wounded on Dec.
"She is an active officer, she has
a very good work ethic," said Hargis, who said he had worked with
Rivera earlier in his career.
Miller, the officer who shot and
killed Morton, was placed on administrative leave, as is required
after a police shooting, while the investigation continues, Hargis
Police said they had not determined
what sparked the initial dispute that brought police to the normally
quiet Camden street. They said Custis is the father of a child whose
mother, Tracy Morton, is Morton's aunt.
Police said Lamont Morton had
previous encounters with police, but they declined to specify what