Acting Prosecutor Robert Laurino announced today that on Sunday night, February 7, an Essex County Sheriff Officer was shot and critically wounded in the area of 667 Sanford Avenue in Newark. The suspect, Darnell McNeil, age 19, of Somerset was fatally wounded. Essex County Sheriff Officer Lorenzo Zackery, age 49, a 22 year veteran, was shot in the torso and remains critical but stable.
The circumstances of the shooting are not yet clear. However, we know that at approximately 10:45 pm, a short time prior to the shooting, suspect Darnell McNeil was not allowed admittance to the Knock Out GoGo Bar located at 667 Sanford Avenue. He was asked to leave by a bouncer after he submitted questionable identification to the bouncer. Approximately 15 minutes later he returned to the Bar, opened the door and fired into the foyer section of the lounge, striking Officer Zackery in the torso. Officer Zachery then pursued the suspect on foot in a northerly direction on Sanford Avenue, to the area opposite 646 Sanford Avenue, and fired his office issued 40 caliber weapon several times striking the suspect.
Officer Zackery was able to flag down a Newark police vehicle and informed the officers that he had been involved in a shooting and had been shot. His firearm was recovered by the Newark police officers. The suspect’s firearm was also recovered at the scene. The suspect was transported to UMDNJ where he was pronounced dead at 11:26 pm. The Officer was transported to an area hospital were he is listed as critical but stable. Due to Officer Zackery’s medical condition he has not been interviewed by law enforcement.
This investigation is being conducted by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide and Professional Standards Units and the Essex County Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Unit. The investigation is continuing. Upon completion of the investigation this matter will be presented to an Essex County Grand Jury, per Standard Operating Procedures.
Anyone with information, please call the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office tip line 877-847-7432.