THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Slain officer not target in drive-by, police say

Associated Press / May 28, 2011

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NEWARK — Police said last night they have arrested a person of interest in a drive-by shooting that killed an off-duty Newark police officer who was getting a slice of pizza at a neighborhood fast-food place.

Two other customers were wounded but survived the Thursday night attack, which killed Officer William Johnson.

Authorities said yesterday that it does not appear that Johnson, 45, was the target.

Besides Johnson, a 21-year-old man was wounded in the stomach and was in stable condition at University Hospital.

A 19-year-old who was at the restaurant with her toddler was struck in the shoulder. She was released from the hospital yesterday. Her child was not injured.

Acting Police Director Samuel DeMaio said investigators believe the shooters intended to attack someone in the restaurant, but they are not sure who.

Police and city leaders were mourning the loss of the veteran officer.

“He is from our city,’’ Mayor Cory Booker said. “He lived in Newark. He is one of our own, up from the bricks. And one of our own, who dedicated his life to protect us, is slain in our streets. We must work together to say this will never happen again.’’

“We will find those people responsible for killing one of our officers. We will not let this cop killer stay on the streets.’’

Carolyn A. Murray, the acting Essex County prosecutor, said that the man who was arrested, Rasul McNeil-Thomas, faces charges in the carjacking of the vehicle police believe was used in the shooting, and gun possession charges, but so far has not been charged in the shooting. Officials said they were still looking for another person connected to the shooting.

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