I got a call, from The Star-Ledger, on Friday January 14th, to go to Lakewood for an officer involved shooting. There was very little detail known as I was driving down, just that an officer had been shot, his condition was unknown, and they were looking for a suspect. This is the kind of assignment I have always dreaded, anything involving a death, but especially when it is a cop, everyone is on edge and you show up with a camera, the media, the vultures, paparazzi, etc. You have to handle this situation carefully and respectfully, it is news and the story needs to be told, but I never go in just snapping away.
By the time I got to the scene, or more precisely the neighborhood where it happened as the whole area was closed off, I had gotten word that the officer Lakewood Patrolman Christopher Matlosz, 27 years old, was shot and killed by an assailant who had approached Matlosz, who was parked in his patrol car in a residential neighborhood, and fired on him before he had time to react. 27 years old. There wasn't much for me to do there as there was no access to the scene, nor would I have wanted access, but I had to be there in case something developed or they caught the suspect. When I got home and checked the web and saw a photo of Patrolman Matlosz, I realized that I had worked with him in the past, dealing with him on assignments. Over the next couple of days I talked with friends and officers from other towns who were friends of his. A real tragedy for many people.
I was fortunate a few days later to get a call from the Asbury Park Press to cover a candlelight vigil held in front of the Lakewood Police Department for Patrolman Matlosz. It was a way for me to be able to honor him in some way, to be there and to document it.
All images ©2011 Mike McLaughlin / All Rights Reserved www.mikemclaughlin.com
For more information and photos check out the Asbury Park Press and The Star-Ledger online. The Press has links to photos from the viewing and funeral on the Asbury Park Press Photographers facebook page.