DEPTFORD, N.J. – A suspect in a shoplifting case struck a New Jersey police officer with a sport utility vehicle and tried to run down another before officers shot and killed her in a strip mall parking lot, authorities said Sunday.
Deptford Township officers were called to a Marshalls department store at about 3:40 p.m. Saturday about a shoplifting. Before their arrival, they'd been told one suspect was wanted in a previous homicide, said Bernie Weisenfeld, a spokesman for the Gloucester County prosecutor's office.
Officers found that three suspects had fled the store with "a substantial amount" of unpaid merchandise, Weisenfeld said. A Philadelphia man who was "actively resisting" the store's loss prevention agents fled on foot.
Two female suspects got into a rented SUV, and although officers commanded the driver to stop, the vehicle accelerated toward them, Weisenfeld said. A patrol captain who was a 27-year veteran was struck by the open driver's side door and the vehicle then raced toward the other officer and "reportedly attempted to deliberately run over the second officer in an apparent assault by auto," Weisenfeld said.
That officer, a sergeant and a 17-year veteran, fired three shots at the driver, striking her twice, and the speeding vehicle veered "narrowly missing the officer" and continued down an access road from the parking lot, Weisenfeld said.
LaShanda Anderson, 36, of Philadelphia, was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy Sunday by the county medical examiner ruled the cause of death as multiple gunshot wounds, Weisenfeld said.
"Eyewitness statements provided during the investigation confirmed that Anderson accelerated straight at the officer who reportedly acted in self-defense," he said.
The sergeant was treated at a hospital and released, and will be on administrative leave during the investigation. The patrol captain was uninjured.
The other woman in the SUV was charged with shoplifting and the man was being sought on second-degree robbery and assault charges. It was unclear which suspect was wanted in a previous homicide.
The robbery and shooting are being investigated by the prosecutor's office. Prosecutor Charles Fiore vowed a "comprehensive and objective investigation," Weisenfeld said.