The investigation into a police shooting that killed an armed suspect last week will include video captured by cameras in the area of the incident and inside the police cars.
Antoquan Watson, 27, pulled a gun at a Pleasantville restaurant about 12:30 p.m. Thursday after he wasn’t able to cover his lunch tab of less than $9. He then led police on a chase that went through Egg Harbor Township and Ventnor Heights, where he turned around near Dorset Avenue and headed into Atlantic City over the Albany Avenue bridge.
He died in a shootout with police in front of the Tanger Outlet stores at the foot of the Atlantic City Expressway.
Witnesses said Watson’s black sport utility vehicle crashed into bushes outside a store on Atlantic Avenue just past Missouri Avenue, then he got out and started shooting. Five Atlantic City police officers and three from Pleasantville returned fire.
The Tanger Outlets The Walk has a state-of-the-art surveillance system with about seven cameras capturing all or part of the stretch of Atlantic Avenue where the chase came to a violent end. Two Pleasantville police cars involved in the chase also had cameras mounted to the dashboards that were recording.
Seeing those cars just after the shooting, Pleasantville Mayor Jesse Tweedle said he was surprised the officers were uninjured.
Atlantic Avenue also has cameras at each intersection, but those are merely for traffic flow and do not have an optional feature that would allow recording.
Little information about Watson has surfaced, but he does have recent local ties to the city.
He was employed at the Atlantic City Convention Center for about a year until December, Safety Manager Ryan Stouffer confirmed. He could not comment on what Watson’s position was or whether the man was fired or quit.
“Our thoughts go out to his family,” Stouffer said.
Watson allegedly began firing at police as he drove over the Albany Avenue bridge, which now bears the name of Peter Egnor, a 21-year-old Atlantic City police officer who was fatally shot during a car chase Oct. 14, 1981. That incident also ended with the suspect dead, but the gunshot in that case was self-inflicted.
Watson’s killing is being investigated by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, as required under Attorney General guidelines. The officers will remain on administrative leave throughout the investigation and until they are medically cleared to return to work.
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