Atlantic City police fatally shot an armed suspect outside the Stanley Holmes Village apartment complex Monday afternoon following a brief chase, authorities said.
Family members identified the slain man as Derek Mack, 18, an Atlantic City resident who was preparing to move to Virginia with his mother, Ruby Conde, 42.
Witnesses accused police of shooting Mack after he raised his hands trying to surrender.
Mack and his brother Raymond, 19, were temporarily staying with other family friends in Atlantic City while their mother was in Virginia making plans for their move.
“Atlantic City’s not for life,” said Mack’s uncle Alexis Conde, 33.
Atlantic City police responded about 2 p.m. to a report of two armed males at Stanley Holmes, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office said in a release. The two suspects tried to flee when they saw police. Officers ordered them to stop and drop their handguns.
One person, an unidentified 24-year-old Atlantic City man, stopped and dropped his gun, the Prosecutor’s Office said. He was taken to the Atlantic County jail and held on $100,000 bail.
The foot pursuit, the Prosecutor’s Office said, “ended on the 200 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, where a uniformed officer allegedly fired shots, wounding the 18-year-old suspect.”
Mack was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, where he died, the Prosecutor’s Office said.
The Prosecutor’s Office refused to identify the officer or officers involved.
Witnesses at the housing complex said the police officer shot Mack after he surrendered.
“I was right there,” Stanley Holmes resident Mel Quan said Monday afternoon. “He had his hands up.”
Quan, 29, said he was standing near a utility box about 100 feet from the incident. He said he saw police chase Mack north on Rosemont Place before turning left onto City Place.
“He stopped right there,” Quan said, pointing to a spot near City Place and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
“He put his hands up, and that’s when the police shot him,” Quan said. “He put his hands up. They didn’t even tell him to put his hands up.”
Kaleef Shabazz, 32, said he was standing by some mailboxes on City Place east of Rosemont Place. He said he didn’t know why there was a pursuit.
“I just know he was running,” he said. “Cops stopped him, and they shot him three times, one, two, three times. Boom, boom, boom.”
Shabazz said police handcuffed Mack after he was on the ground.
Alexis Campbell, 19, said she was at home feeding her child at the time of the incident. After people heard the shots, she said they began coming out of the housing complex’s buildings.
“Everyone was like, ‘Oh my God!’” shouting and questioning the officers, she said. She said several people whom she said knew Mack started screaming. She then ran outside.
“Cops said, ‘Back up, back up,’” changing their focus from the person on the ground to the growing crowd, she said.
Then the person on the ground began convulsing, like he was having seizures, she said. That’s when police tried what she thought was cardiopulmonary resuscitation. An ambulance arrived shortly afterward.
A heavy police presence then secured the area afterward, including officers with dogs and apparent assault weapons.
Throughout the afternoon, knots of residents periodically shouted taunts at resort officers, accusing them of corruption and brutality.
At Stanley Holmes, resident Angel Camper said Mack was “a friend of the family” she met a couple of years ago. “He was sweet, he was a nice boy,” Camper said.
“He was a happy little boy, always playing games,” said Vineland resident Robert Conde, 43, another uncle. Conde saw Mack on Sunday, when he went to Atlantic City to buy clothes.
“He seemed very happy,” Conde said. “He was looking for a job because he was supposed to go with his mother.”
Mack has had previous legal trouble. When he was shot, he was on probation for unlawful handgun possession after being convicted and sentenced in September 2011 when he was 16. At that point, Mack had to forfeit the weapon, pay $45 in fines, provide a DNA sample and take urine tests during probation.
City Councilmen Marty Small and Steven Moore visited the scene, talking with police and residents.
“This is major,” said Moore, who represents the city’s 3rd Ward, which includes Stanley Holmes Village. “This is absolutely major. No matter what happens, this is a major event for Atlantic City.”
“This is not good, this is not good at all,” said Small, who represents the 2nd Ward.
Small said the community was “very, very, very, very emotional and enraged” over the shooting.
“We’ve been trying to work on police-community relationships, and everyone — if they’re being honest — knows the police-community relationship wasn’t good, even though they’d taken steps to make it better,” Small said. “I know some of the facts about the case, but you have to understand that when people are emotional, they don’t want to hear anything when you have someone dead. … Our worst fears have come true.”
Police left the scene about 6:15 p.m. About 15 minutes later, Mack’s family and friends held a short gathering near the shooting scene. Some family members who drove from Vineland to Atlantic City to see Mack in the hospital attended the vigil.
The police were supposed to protect and defend, his grandmother Maria Edna Torres, 68, said in Spanish, translated by her son, Alexis Conde. “He was just a child, 18 years old. He had his full life ahead of him.”
Atlantic City resident Steve Young, who organized the event with the National Action Network, called for guns to be taken off the street, including those of police officers.
He also urged resort residents to stay levelheaded — for now.
“Don’t get involved. Stay peaceful until we can get to the bottom of this all,” he said.
Monday’s shooting was the first time an Atlantic City police officer has shot and killed a suspect since Sgt. Larry Ross shot Walter Abney in August 1989, while responding to a domestic-disturbance call. Police said Abney threatened Ross with a pair of butcher knives.
Staff Writers Lynda Cohen, Joel Landau and Emily Previti contributed to this report.
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