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Body cam footage of fatal Atlantic City police shooting released

ATLANTIC CITY — The June 22 shooting of Timothy Deal on Kentucky Avenue was tragic but justified, as Deal attacked an officer with a knife, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said Tuesday.

Tyner released video from the body cameras worn by the officers on the scene of the shooting.

“We must not lose sight of the fact that a sworn police officer reported to the scene of an accident to protect the public, and was attacked for no apparent reason,” Tyner said in a statement. “The officer defended himself and protected the public from untold harm. This incident reminds us of how fragile life can be, and we should all be thankful that no innocent bystanders were injured.”

Tyner also cautioned that the shooting of Deal should not be compared to police shootings elsewhere in the country, “where unarmed individuals have been assaulted and in some instances killed.”

“Each incident has its own set of facts and must be investigated separately,” the prosecutor said.

Steve Young, chairman of the Atlantic City chapter of the National Action Network, said the prosecutor’s decision to release the videos on the same day as Deal’s funeral was disrespectful. Deal’s services took place Tuesday at the All Wars Memorial Building on Adriatic Avenue, Young said.

“This has disturbed and interrupted (the family’s) mourning,” Young said. “We are asking everyone to still come together and support the family.”

Later Tuesday evening, family and community members gathered where Deal was shot for a small memorial. Latasha Whaley placed her hand on the photo of her late cousin, saying Deal was a great man and a great member of the Atlantic City community.

“The hardest part of this whole thing to watch is our family and his sister, his nieces ... they’re heartbroken,” Whaley said. “To see our cousin tell her daughter that her uncle — her best friend — is never coming home was the hardest thing to watch.”

The group that met on North Kentucky Avenue wore red shirts with family photos of Deal, some shirts with the slogan “Justice for Tim.”

The shooting death of Deal happened June 22 on the 600 block of North Kentucky, where officers were investigating a hit-and-run crash with injuries, according to previous reports. During the investigation, Deal, who was not involved in the accident, approached and allegedly stabbed one of the officers with a knife, police and the prosecutor said.


The body camera video — two segments were released, each a little more than one minute long — show Deal approaching one of the officers with a knife and then lunging at him. The officer, who has not been identified, yells at Deal to drop the knife and then shoots him several times as Deal swings the knife.

Deal stumbles backward and then falls to the ground.

The officers then tell him to drop the knife and roll him over and put him in handcuffs.

After shooting Deal, the officer, whose face is blurred in the video, yells into his radio, “Shots fired, male down, officers OK. ... I might be stabbed; I’m not sure.”

The injured officer and Deal were transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus. Deal was pronounced dead at the hospital’s trauma center. The injured officer was treated and released, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

The shooting led to a rally outside the Atlantic City police station and at the spot of the incident June 24.

People at the rally, which was organized by Young and Deal’s family, demanded the body camera footage be released as well as Deal’s body so it could be buried.

Young said the Prosecutor’s Office allowed the family to view one of the body camera videos last week and released the body.

“This is not the fault of the family or the community,” Young said. “We are proud that the Atlantic City community came together and protested this peacefully.”

Whaley said the vigils and demonstrations will continue, with the next community vigil being held this Friday. “There’s other things (the police) could have done. ... We just want justice for my cousin,” Whaley said.

The Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy of Deal and determined he died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation is ongoing pending, but not limited to, submission of evidence to the New Jersey State Police Ballistics Laboratory, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

The prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit is conducting the investigation without the participation of the Atlantic City Police Department, as per guidelines from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

GALLERY: Rally for Timothy Deal in Atlantic City

South Jersey fireworks tent businesses exploding throughout state

PLEASANTVILLE — Ariqua Gilliss had no experience working in retail, but she decided to give selling fireworks a try at the TNT Fireworks tent in the Sam’s Club parking lot to help her church.

Gilliss, 24, an administrator at LifePoint Church on Washington Avenue, is also the daytime manager at the fireworks tent, where she sells fountains, sparklers and other novelties.

“It’s actually very easy to sell, mostly because I have seen them work even though I have not sold them myself,” Gilliss said. “Each of our tags have a QR code, so we can just scan it into our phones and show you exactly what it does.”

Former Gov. Chris Christie last year signed legislation that allowed for the sale of non-explosive, non-aerial fireworks, such as sparklers and party poppers, with a valid permit.

Since then, fireworks sales displays have popped up at grocery stores and other outlets, such as Target and Walmart, as well as under tents set up in parking lots.

Nationally, fireworks sales hit $885 million in 2017, up 8 percent from the year before, according to the American Pyro-technics Association.

State officials warn that while some fireworks are legal now, there is still a danger to the consumer.

“It is important to remember that any fireworks are inherently dangerous because they can burn people, animals and property,” Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver said in a statement earlier this year. “We urge the public, especially people with young children under their care, to review the state’s firework safety guidelines and to use fireworks with an abundance of caution.”

Anyone 16 and older can buy, possess and use certain sparkling devices and novelties. Permissible fireworks include ground-based sparklers, snakes and glow worms; smoke devices; and trick noisemakers, including party poppers, snappers and drop pops, according to the state Division of Consumer Affairs.

Michael Froumy, of the Fro Me a Party chain with a location in Egg Harbor Township, is a regional director of Pennsylvania-based Keystone Fireworks, the largest retailer of fireworks in the world. They have 850 tents in 650 municipalities in eight states, he said. Each tent carries 268 different items.

Keystone is operating four tents in Atlantic County. Three are in Egg Harbor Township: at the 7-Eleven on Tilton Road, at Christi’s Bar & Grill on the Airport Circle and between LB ONE Restaurant and Lounge and the Cardiff Volunteer Fire Company on the Black Horse Pike. The fourth tent is in Atlantic City at Ducktown Tavern and Liquor.

Keystone’s tents started selling fireworks June 22. They will all come down Thursday, Froumy said, when all remaining fireworks will be sold at half price.

“New Jersey, by the first week, looks like one of the better years for a new state. New Jersey is welcoming fireworks with open arms,” he said.

LifePoint Church only has the one tent at Sam’s Club as it sees how this inaugural launch plays out.

“It’s kind of like a risk-free fundraiser, which is good,” Gilliss said.

The TNT Fireworks tent started operating June 23 and will close at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Gilliss said. The church will receive 20 percent of the proceeds from everything sold at the tent, and it will not be charged for unsold fireworks, Gilliss said.

The sale and use of large fireworks, namely any fuse-lit or aerial explosive, is still prohibited in the state.

“People should call their municipality or county to find out when public fireworks displays are scheduled. These displays are conducted by professionals and are a great way to safely celebrate the holidays with the community,” said acting State Fire Marshal and Division of Fire Safety Director Richard Mikutsky.

If people decide to use non-aerial fireworks, Mikutsky urges them to follow these safely guidelines:

Only buy from reputable places.

Don’t buy if packaging is damaged or appears tampered with.

Don’t try to “fix” broken or “dud” fireworks.

Never use indoors.

Don’t use in very windy or dry conditions.

Always have water handy and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Never relight a “dud” firework.

Never aim a firework at yourself, another person, animals or buildings.

Wait 20 minutes to dispose of properly.

Beach patrols gear up for holiday weekend

MARGATE — Lt. John Toland sat on the back porch of the city’s Beach Patrol headquarters at noon Tuesday and looked out at the crowd of people dotting the sand.

“This is the calm before the storm,” he said. “This holiday weekend is going to be insane.”

Throughout South Jersey, hundreds of thousands of visitors began heading to the shore even before the weekend began, trying to make the most of the midweek July Fourth holiday, lifeguards report.

In Atlantic and Cape May counties, beach patrols geared up Tuesday for the second weekend surrounding the holiday, when locals and daytrippers alike will cover the beach.

In Atlantic City, where Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino opened last week and the Sam Hunt beach concert drew thousands Sunday, lifeguards recorded 82 rescues, 31 medical cases and 34 lost children returned to their families this past weekend, Beach Patrol Chief Steve Downey said Tuesday.

“We’re anticipating very large crowds tomorrow,” Downey said. “I’m looking at it right now, and (there are) 1,000 people in the water right in front of me.”

Training Officer Bryan Theiss, of the Ocean City Beach Patrol, had a hard time putting a number to the amount of people on the island this week but said it’s in the tens of thousands.

“The crowds are already here,” he said. “It’s extremely busy. You just notice it driving around the island.”

During the summer, 55 lifeguards patrol 1.7 miles of Margate beach, where more than 100,000 people can be found on a good Saturday during the summer, Toland said.

With July Fourth falling on a Wednesday this year, Toland said, many people extended their weekend vacations.

And, he said, lifeguards can see 50,000 more people on the beaches during the holiday weekend alone.

This is when rip currents are most deadly to you

A heat wave that drives you to the shore, warm water temperature that draws you to the surf and a yellow flag “for moderate rip currents” that hints at danger, but doesn’t prevent you from swimming: These conditions can prove to be a dangerous, even deadly combination, according to research by the National Weather Service.

Last weekend, Margate lifeguards recorded 58 rescues and 43 medical calls, he said. The number was low, he added, in part because of the calm water.

“The water was in great condition,” he said. “No rip currents.”

On a day with a strong rip current, one lifeguard stand can make 30 rescues, he said.

The forecast through the weekend calls for calm waters, he said.

Toland’s big concern this summer is the three outfall pipes that jut out from the beach. They were put in last year during the dredging project and help with drainage, but they can be hazardous to swimmers.

Absecon Island beaches ready for the season

Beaches will be ready for vacationers on Memorial Day weekend, say mayors in Longport and Margate, where contractors are making final touches on dune and drainage projects.

In addition to posting signs, lifeguards have been keeping an eye out to make sure people don’t swim near the pipes, he said, adding that in a step, the water can go from ankle-deep to 12 feet deep.

“Lifeguarding is all about being proactive,” he said. “Having good eyes and knowing what’s going on.”

Downey doesn’t think this weekend will be as busy as last.

“Obviously, with the concert last week and the casino openings, we were maxed out in Atlantic City beach-wise,” he said. “I still anticipate it being very busy with the heat and humidity.”

A little less sizzle, but heat wave continues into the week

We made it, South Jersey. The worst of the heat wave is over. However, that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods just yet. The thermometer will flirt with 90 degrees for the rest of the week, with plenty of sunshine and humidity to go around.

Press Meteorologist Joe Martucci predicts temperatures around 90 degrees for the rest of the week.

Theiss said Ocean City lifeguards made quite a few saves last weekend due to rip currents, but the water is calmer now and projected to stay that way until a stronger swell comes in over the weekend.

“We’re packed from the water’s edge to the sand dunes,” he said. “It’s hard to grab a piece of property on the beach — it’s that crowded.”

Bill creating tax incentives around Cape May, Woodbine airports heads to governor

Airports in Cape May County will get an economic boost under a bill that awaits Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature.

The bill, recently passed by the state Legislature, will provide a tax credit of $5,000 a year for every job created or retained for eligible businesses around the Cape May County Airport in Lower Township and a $4,000 credit for businesses around the Woodbine Airport.

The legislation is similar to a bill Atlantic County has been pursuing for a year and a half, but there are some key differences.

In Cape May County, the credits can apply to any business looking to relocate or expand around the airports. Atlantic County is specifically targeting aviation companies to fill the Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park near Atlantic City International Airport. That bill is also on the governor’s desk awaiting signature.

“Both airports are extremely important to our future,” said state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, who sponsored the bill with Assemblymen Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land, all D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic. “It’s a bit more diversified than the Atlantic County bill, which I am also a sponsor of, but both are very good for South Jersey.”

The first business that could take advantage of the tax incentives is Cape May Brewing Co., which is looking to expand its facility at the Cape May County Airport.

“To incentivize businesses to come here is a good idea because the airport is a great spot,” said Ryan Krill, CEO of Cape May Brewing. “We’ve been maxed out here, and we’re at a tipping point where we’re making decisions about whether to expand here or go to another spot. This could make a difference in our decision.”

Cape May County, like neighboring Atlantic County, also has looked to aviation to diversify its economy beyond tourism.

The county and Delaware River and Bay Authority, which operates the county airport, have hosted a drone conference in Cape May for the past several years. The theory is that the county’s geography is perfect for flying and testing drones.

“I know we’re a bit out of the way, but I think it gives us an advantage because we’re not in a flight path or anything,” Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky said. “We’ve been doing some joint ventures with the county on drones, and now we are building the infrastructure to help bring in businesses.”

Just last year, the county, Verizon and American Aerospace Technologies tested a new type of technology on a drone that brought cellphone service to part of Belleplain State Forest, which does not normally get service.

The “flying cell site” was developed after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and can bring service back to an area via drone following a natural disaster.

Pikolycky said infrastructure improvements at his airport include two new helipads and upgraded runways, instrumentation and security.

The local airport also doubles as a fully improved and subdivided business park with water, sanitary sewer and fiber-optic infrastructure, Pikolycky said.

The Cape May County Airport also secured several tenants for its industrial park over the past year, all of which could benefit from this bill.

“The bill is important to help Cape May County develop businesses that are not uniquely tied to a seasonal tourism economy,” Freeholder Will Morey said in a statement. “This legislation encourages investment, growth and expansion for businesses that operate year-round and provides meaningful, sustainable job opportunities in our county.”

Pikolycky and Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton said they are going to contact the governor and encourage him to sign the bill.

“I have a letter ready to go to the governor explaining the importance of this bill and am inviting him down to see what some of our plans are,” Thornton said.