Ambush Camden Police Shooting: Chief Credits 'Grace of God' After Man Fires Up to 25 Shots at New Jersey Detectives

On Tuesday evening, two Camden County, New Jersey, police detectives were shot in their unmarked vehicle in what Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson is classifying as an "ambush."

During a press conference, Thomson explained that the shooting occurred around 8:30 p.m. EST and the officers, who have not been named, were in plainclothes while sitting in their unmarked car at a red light.

"They were essentially ambushed," Thomson said. "A male walked up and began opening fire. We have anywhere between 10 and 25 rounds that were fired at the officers."

The police chief shared that one of the officers was able to return fire, at which point, the suspect or suspects fled the scene. Fortunately, the two officers did not sustain life-threatening injuries but were taken to Cooper University Hospital to be treated for their wounds.

Given the extent of rounds that were fired at the officers from close range and the fact that some went through the windshield, Thomson credited "the grace of God" for the officers' survival. Newsweek reached out to the Camden County Police Department but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Camden County police are conducting a "rapidly unfolding" investigation to identify and apprehend the person or people responsible for the shooting. It's unknown if anyone other than the officers were shot during the exchange of gunfire.

Thomson called a reporter's inquiry about why the officers were shot a "great question" and shared, "all we know is it was completely unprovoked," explaining that at the time of the shooting, the officers weren't engaged in any type of enforcement action.

Camden County Police Department Officers Ambushed
An officer of the Camden County Police Department (CCPD) goes on a foot patrol on August 20, 2013, in the Fairview neighborhood of Camden, New Jersey. On Tuesday, a suspect or suspects fired up to 25 shots at two officers who were sitting in an unmarked police car. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Both the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI joined the investigation and Thomson credited the strong bond of local law enforcement for the large amount of help in conducting a widespread manhunt.

The shooting took place only a few hours after Camden County police officers participated in National Night Out, a bonding event between police officers and the communities in which they serve. Thomson said it's not lost on the department that the officers were shot on a night that's meant for the community to get to know local law enforcement.

"Unfortunately, on a night when we were supposed to be celebrating safety, two of our detectives were engaged as victims," the police chief told reporters. "I can tell you every cop in this land would say we'd rather have it us than the citizenry. But it's an unfortunate event."

The department was formed in May 2013 to patrol the city of Camden, New Jersey, after a decision was made in 2011 to disband the city's police force in an effort to make the crime-ridden area a safer place. In 2017, the city, which was repeatedly dubbed the most dangerous city in America, experienced the lowest murder rate since 1988, according to NJ.com. A success Thomson credits at least partially to a positive relationship between law enforcement and the community. In 2015, then-President Barack Obama called the Camden County Police Department a "symbol of promise for the nation," according to NPR.

Thomson told reporters that police officers often say their families have a harder job than they do because of the worry that comes with having a loved one in the profession. Ahead of the press conference, Thomson spoke to the mothers of the detectives, who he described as being "distraught."

Ambush Camden Police Shooting: Chief Credits 'Grace of God' After Man Fires Up to 25 Shots at New Jersey Detectives | U.S.