Police officer slain by killer who sought fame

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Police officer slain by killer who sought fame
A makeshift memorial is seen for Jersey City Police officer Melvin Santiago, who was killed while on duty at the West District precinct, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., on Sunday, July 13. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A man carries a portrait of Jersey City Police officer Melvin Santiago, who was killed while on duty, as people paid respects for the fallen officer at the West District precinct, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., on July 13. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A pedestrian stands besides a memorial for 23-year-old Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago at the Walgreens where he was fatally shot the previous day, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Santiago, who joined the force last July and was sworn in December, was fatally shot in the head inside his marked police car as he pulled up to the store. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Pedestrians walk past a memorial for 23-year-old Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago outside the Walgreens where he was fatally shot the previous day, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Santiago, who joined the force last July and was sworn in December, was fatally shot in the head inside his marked police car as he pulled up to the store. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
This photo provided by the Jersey City Mayor's office shows Officer Melvin Santiago. Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at a Walgreens Pharmacy at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop says Santiago was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center. No other details about the officer were immediately released. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified. (AP Photo/Jersey City Mayor's office)
This 2013 Jersey City Police Department photo provided by the Office of the Mayor of Jersey City shows Daniel Wilson. Police are also searching for Wilson, who they believe was involved in a previous homicide with Lawrence Campbell, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said said. Lawrence Campbell, 27, shot Officer Melvin Santiago in the head shortly after he and his partner arrived at the 24-hour Walgreens at around 4 a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said. Other officers returned fire at Campbell, killing him. (AP Photo/Office of the Mayor of Jersey City)
A pedestrian stands at a memorial to Lawrence Campbell, who allegedly shot and killed 23-year-old Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Campbell was also killed at the scene after police officers returned fire. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Pedestrians stand near a memorial to Lawrence Campbell, who allegedly shot and killed 23-year-old Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Campbell was also killed at the scene after police officers returned fire. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Onlookers stand across the street from a memorial to Lawrence Campbell, who allegedly shot and killed 23-year-old Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Campbell was also killed at the scene after police officers returned fire. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A Jersey City Police Department cruiser is seen with bullet holes on the windshield at the scene where an officer was shot and killed while responding to a call at a 24-hour pharmacy, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A person lays on the ground near evidence markers as officials investigate the scene where a Jersey City Police Department officer was shot and killed while responding to a call at a 24-hour pharmacy, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A person lays on the ground near evidence markers as officials investigate the scene where a Jersey City Police Department officer was shot and killed while responding to a call at a 24-hour pharmacy, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop addresses the media during a news conference talking about an early morning shooting which lead to a suspect and a Jersey City Police Department officer killed, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Fulop said. The Mayor said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Jersey City Police Chief Robert Cowan, right, talks while standing next to Mayor Steven Fulop during a news conference talking about an early morning shooting which lead to a suspect and a Jersey City Police Department officer killed, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Fulop said. The Mayor said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, center, addresses the media during a news conference talking about an early morning shooting which lead to a suspect and a Jersey City Police Department officer killed, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Fulop said. The Mayor said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A Jersey City Police Department officer stands guard on the perimeter of a crime scene where an officer was shot and killed while responding to a call at a 24-hour pharmacy, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A pedestrian stands at a memorial to Lawrence Campbell, who allegedly shot and killed 23-year-old Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Campbell was also killed at the scene after police officers returned fire. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Officials investigate a Jersey City Police Department cruiser at the scene where an officer was shot and killed while responding to a call at a 24-hour pharmacy, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A person lays on the ground near evidence markers as officials use a tent while investigating the scene where a Jersey City Police Department officer was shot and killed while responding to a call at a 24-hour pharmacy, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A Jersey City Police Department cruiser is seen with its back window shattered as officials investigate the scene where a Jersey City Police Department officer was shot and killed while responding to a call at a 24-hour pharmacy, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A memorial for 23-year-old Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago stands at the Walgreens where he was fatally shot the previous day, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Santiago, who joined the force last July and was sworn in December, was fatally shot in the head inside his marked police car as he pulled up to the store. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Investigators pull a sheet over the body of a suspect who allegedly shot a Jersey City Police Department officer responding to a call at a 24-hour pharmacy, Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot in the head while still in his police vehicle as he and his partner responded to an armed robbery call at about 4.a.m., Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. Fulop said officers responding to the robbery call shot and killed the man who shot Santiago. He was not immediately identified. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A memorial for 23-year-old Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago stands at the Walgreens where he was fatally shot the previous day, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Santiago, who joined the force last July and was sworn in December, was fatally shot in the head inside his marked police car as he pulled up to the store. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Pedestrians pass a memorial to Lawrence Campbell, who allegedly shot and killed 23-year-old Jersey City police officer Melvin Santiago, Monday, July 14, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. Campbell was also killed at the scene after police officers returned fire. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - Melvin Santiago had dreamed of being a police officer since he was a boy, seeking to follow in the footsteps of his uncle.

When Santiago 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 after he graduated from the police academy, the 23-year-old was dead after a gunman shot him in the head.

Santiago died early Sunday, shortly after he and other officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at a 24-hour drugstore.

The gunman, 27-year-old city resident Lawrence Campbell, never tried to rob the store, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said. He assaulted the store's armed security guard and snatched his gun, Fulop said. 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 for officers to arrive and shot Santiago with what police believe was the guard's weapon.

Other officers returned fire at Campbell, killing him.

Fulop said Campbell was one of three suspects wanted by police for a prior homicide. Another man being sought in that case, 23-year-old city resident Daniel Wilson, was captured Sunday night, officials said.

Fulop said authorities had been aggressively seeking Wilson for three days.

"Melvin was an officer who represented everything one would want to see in a police officer," Fulop said. "I know the entire city's thoughts and prayers are with the Santiago family during this difficult time and we mourn together."

Santiago's longtime friend Gary Nahrwold said it was about a decade ago that his pal told him he wanted to become a police officer.

Nahrwold, 24, also hopes to join the force and said he won't be discouraged by Santiago's slaying. If he joins a police department, he will serve in Melvin's memory and the memory of others killed in the line of duty.

"It just gives me more purpose to do it," he said. "I'm not going to be deterred by some senseless crimes."

Jersey City Police Killing Was Trap Planned By Gunman

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