HAMMONTON — The man who allegedly shot himself to death sometime Wednesday night or early Thursday morning as police surrounded his condominum was remembered as “a fun-loving, big-hearted young man from a very good family,” by Mayor Steve DiDonato on Thursday.
Joseph Continisio III, 29, lived in the Whispering Pines condominium complex off Pleasant Mills Road. The investigation continues into his death, police said, and should help authorities better pinpoint the time of death.
Police had responded to a call late Wednesday night from Continisio’s girlfriend, who said he had a gun and had fired at least one shot inside the residence. She was not in the condominium with him when police arrived, and neither she nor anyone else was threatened, said Police Chief Robert Jones.
Jones said some of the first responding officers reported hearing one shot, and others heard two. After that no more gunshots were heard of reported, Jones said.
Continisio never fired at police, and never responded to calls to his cell phone or to attempts to communicate with him via a police Public Address system, Jones said.
His family owns Joseph Continisio Builders in Hammonton, which developed single family homes at Valley Wood Estates and Central Walk and condominiums at Grand Oak Twins in town and is currently building 14 homes in the Valley Ridge development on Cara Lane of Valley Avenue.
DiDonato, a builder as well as owner of DiDonato’s Family Fun Center in town, knew both Continisio and his father. The company, run by Joseph Continisio Jr., has been active in the Hammonton area for decades.
“His parents are very nice, honest people,” said DiDonato, adding he also knew the younger Continisio because his niece attended Hammonton High School with him. Continisio graduated in 2002.
Alan Hitchens, a resident on Jamestown Boulevard, said he heard shots fired from what he thought sounded like a pellet gun at about 10 p.m. Wednesday.
“The cops told everyone to go inside,” he said.
Hitchens said a county Emergency Response Team truck and police vehicles from Hammonton and Mullica Township were in the complex, and police had guns pointed at the home.
Jones said officers were following protocols.
Sometime after 3 a.m. police checked the apartment with an electronic scan.
“They cleared the apartment ... and the result was a body was removed with a gunshot wound,” said Hammonton Police Captain Nick Salvatore. “It’s believed to be self-inflicted.”
Emergency responders blocked off the road on Pleasant Mills, between Main Road and Airport Road, as well as access to Dogwood Lane.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office is handling the investigation and an autopsy will be performed.
Anjalee Khemlani and Steve Hughes contributed to this report.
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