Millville police officer Christopher Reeves died in a chase Sunday morning after his patrol car was struck by the suspect who was fleeing police, a spokesman for the state PBA said.
The incident occurred about 2:15 a.m. at Third and Broad streets, city police said.
Jim Ryan, spokesman for the State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, said in a statement that another officer in the car with Reeves at the time of the crash — identified later by Mayor Tim Shannon as Johnathan Seidel — was critically injured and remains hospitalized.
However, Shannon later said the injuries suffered by Seidel — who was in training under Reeves — did not appear life-threatening.
Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said Sunday that no additional information would be released until today.
Reeves served in the Marine Corps and was a 1991 graduate of Millville Senior High School. He joined the Police Department in January 2004.
He is survived by his wife, Susan, who is also a Millville police officer, having joined the department in 2005, and their 2-year-old son, Alex.
On Sunday, black bunting draped the front of Millville’s police headquarters. The department had already been planning a memorial service today for a K-9 unit dog, Treu, who died last month.
At the intersection where Reeves was killed, there was no sign of the incident from the night before.
“Chris was a member of his community who always gave back, whether it be as a volunteer fireman or a police officer. His loss is felt by all of us. In this time of tragedy, I ask everyone to keep his family, friends and the Millville Police Department in your prayers,” State PBA President Anthony Wieners said.
Shannon said Sunday night that Reeves’ death affected the community.
“Obviously, it’s a very, very difficult time for the entire city of Millville. Anytime you lose an officer in the line of duty, it is tragic,” Shannon said.
Shannon added that he was particularly concerned for Reeves’ family.
“I can’t imagine what Sue Reeves is going through, and with a young boy at home,” he said.
Millville paramedic Ian Roberts said Reeves’ death creates a void that cannot be filled.
Roberts, a former police officer, said he met Reeves through the Millville Volunteer Fire Department, where they both were firefighters, with lockers near one another.
“You met Chris, and one of the first things that struck you about him was he was a good-looking guy. He looked like the all-American guy. Hollywood actors should look at him and say, ‘I wish I looked like him,’” Roberts said.
Roberts described Reeves as compassionate, both as a police officer and personally. Reeves went from being a hero as a Marine to a hero as a police officer and a volunteer firefighter, but never looked for praise, Roberts said.
“Despite his love of country and love of his job, his passion was his wife and child. You could talk to Chris about anything, and he always had a smile on his face. When the mention of his wife and child came up, his smile morphed into something you can’t even describe,” Roberts said.
“Chris and Sue balanced each other. He completed her, and she completed him. The culmination of that was the beautiful son they have,” he said.
Dave Buchanan worked as an emergency medical technician in Millville and also worked alongside Reeves. He said Reeves was always helpful at emergency medical calls and treated individuals he arrested with dignity.
“He was just a homegrown kid. He graduated from high school down here, and then he went to the Marine Corps, came home and wanted to give back to the community. With Chris, the bottom line is you couldn’t say anything bad about him,” said Buchanan, of Hopewell Township.
Police said the investigation into the crash is being handled by the Prosecutor’s Office and State Police.
“Obviously, this was a very tragic event,” Prosecutor Webb-McRae said. “We’re very saddened and are praying for his family.”
Staff Writer Trudi Gilfillian contributed to this report.
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