A New Jersey mayor lashed out Monday at residents for memorializing a man who killed a police officer over the weekend.
A temporary memorial was on display in the Jersey City neighborhood where Lawrence Campbell lived. It included candles and balloons and messages from friends of the man who police said ambushed 23-year-old officer Melvin Santiago early Sunday at a drugstore.
Campbell's widow, Angelique Campbell, told News 12 New Jersey she is sorry for Santiago's family but that her husband should have killed more officers if they were planning to kill him. "He should've taken more with him ... God forgive me, that's how I feel," she said.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop called the memorial and her comments "disgusting" and "ignorant."
"There are people in every single community who just don't value life and this is highlighted by a situation like this," Fulop said.
Campbell, who had prior drug arrests and was released from jail in January, was one of three suspects wanted by police for a homicide.
Campbell, who didn't try to rob the store, assaulted the Walgreens' security guard and snatched his gun. Then, he approached someone and apologized for his conduct inside the store, then said to watch the news later because he was "going to be famous."
Campbell then waited about four minutes for officers to arrive and shot Santiago. Other officers returned fire, killing Campbell.
When he was a teenager, Melvin Santiago was held up at gunpoint by a robber outside a gas station on the city's west side. The experience made him want to become a police officer so that he could help make the neighborhood safer for his younger brother and the cousins he would go bowling with every other weekend., seeking to follow in the footsteps of his uncle.
When he accomplished his dream in December and joined the Jersey City force as a rookie officer, he asked to serve in what the city's public safety director describes as its "toughest district." Seven months later, he was dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
Santiago's mother, Cathy McBride, said her son "died doing what he loved."
She called Campbell a coward and said his hope of becoming famous from the shooting did not deserve to be fulfilled. "My son is gone because of that," McBride said, adding, "He didn't have a chance to see what was coming."
Contributing: New York Times