Police have three men in custody after an undercover Paramus police officer was shot in a shopping plaza on Passaic Street in Garfield Tuesday afternoon, NorthJersey.com reported.
According to the report, authorities said the officer, who was part of an undercover county narcotics operation at the time of the shooting, is in stable condition at Hackensack University Medical Center, and is expected to make a full recovery.
The unidentified officer was shot in the hip and lower left leg, the report said.
According to authorities, at least five shots were fired in the shopping plaza, which includes a Marshalls and a WalMart, after 1 p.m. Tuesday, the report said.
The officer was in his car making a marijuana purchase from one of the suspects as part of the sting drug operation, Bergen County Prosecutor Joh Molinelli said in a press conference about the shooting, NorthJersey.com reported. A second man approached him with a gun in what police believe was going to be a robbery, the report said.
Although undercover cops are taught to give in to such demands, Molinelli said the alleged gunman, Rafael Angel Vasquez Pina, 25, of Passaic, got "aggressive," causing the officer to take his gun, the report said.
During the subsequent scuffle between the suspects and officer, Pina was shot in the left arm and left leg, the report said. He was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the report said.
Pina faces an attempted murder charge, the report said. His two alleged accomplices, Melvin Guzman, 19, of Garfield and Patrick Morel, 21, of Clifton, face first-degree charges related to the shooting, the report said.
Molinelli said the shootout came out of what was supposed to be a relatively small $400 drug deal, the report said. As is typical in undercover investigations, the Paramus officer was not carrying a gun or badge, and was not wearing a bullet-proof vest, the report said.
The shooting caused some panic among shoppers in the stores, the report said.