Detectives are investigating an officer-involved shooting after an alleged burglary Friday in Galloway Township, Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said.
Officer Ronald Gorneau was doing a property check of the Country Farm Food Store on the White Horse Pike at 3:37 a.m. when he saw that a large, square hole had been cut into the outside wall, Housel said. As Gorneau investigated, a man came out through the hole, and the two got into a scuffle.
During the battle, the officer fired his weapon "in his defense," a release from Housel's office states. The suspect then fled.
There is no indication whether the suspect had a weapon, but prosecutor's spokeswoman Haleigh Walz said she was not told there was one. It is not believed anyone was wounded by the gunfire.
"We're still investigating the circumstance of the shooting," Housel said. "We have no way of knowing at this point in time whether the other individual was injured, because that person is not in custody."
Gorneau was treated for minor injuries, Housel said.
The 28-year-old officer has been with Galloway Township only since July. He previously worked in Hamilton Township, where he lost his job as part of layoffs there. His career in Hamilton was marred by two high-profile incidents, including a fatal crash in 2007 that killed the elderly father of a department captain.
Gorneau was responding to a call for help in Egg Harbor City in his marked cruiser, but had turned off his lights and sirens because the call had been downgraded. He was traveling about 90 miles per hour on Route 50 when he collided with a car driven by Harry Jackson, who was trying to turn on to Route 50. Jackson died two hours later. Gorneau also was injured, spending several days in the hospital.
Then-Atlantic County Prosecutor Jeffrey Blitz said the incident did not rise to a criminal level and did not charge Gorneau criminally. The officer later pleaded guilty to unsafe driving and was fined in municipal court. He did not receive points on his license.
Gorneau was punished administratively for violating the department's policy for responding to incidents, which was authored by Jackson's daughter, Capt. Judyth Dunleavy. Gorneau was suspended without pay for five months and ordered to take remedial training. He was allowed back a month early under an agreement with then-police Chief Jay McKeen, in which Gorneau would work through his paid vacation.
One week after his return in April 2008, Gorneau stopped an off-duty state trooper, Sheila McKaig, of the McKee City section of the township, who had been drinking. Rather than ticket or arrest her, Gorneau drove her back to the Hamilton police station, where one of McKaig's colleague's picked her up. He was found to be the ninth township officer to allow McKaig off without charging her.
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