Jahmell W. Crockam made his first court appearance today in a tightly secured courtroom to face charges he gunned down Lakewood patrolman Christopher Matlosz.

Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels informed Crockam, 19, a Lakewood resident, he was charged with murder in Matlosz’s killing and with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Entering the court room at 1:49 p.m. with an orange-and-white striped jump suit from the Ocean County Jail, Crockam responded “yes” when asked if he understood the charges he faces. Crockam was quiet throughout the proceedings — but appeared to be whispering “I love you” to some of his family in the courtroom.

Those family members declined to comment on the case.

Crockam’s bail was kept at $5 million cash, plus an additional $150,000 relating to gun and ammunition charges that preceded the alleged murder of Matlosz.

Crockam was arrested Sunday morning in a Camden apartment after a sweeping, 40-hour dragnet across several states.

Matlosz had stopped to question Crockham, a pedestrian, Friday afternoon on August Drive off Joe Parker Road, authorities said. After a brief exchange, Crockam took a step back, drew a handgun and shot Matlosz once, authorities said. Crockam then stepped forward and fired two more shots, authorities said.

Matlosz, who was engaged to be married, is believed to be the first police officer fatally shot in the line of duty in Ocean County. A candlelight vigil held the for the fallen officer drew more than 500 mourners on Monday night.

Authorities are notifying drivers that traffic delays, road closures and detours are expected in conjunction with the funeral arrangements for Matlosz.

In a statement, Lakewood Police Chief Robert Lawson and Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, the public safety liaison for the township, said that drivers may incur heavy traffic and re-routing on Route 9 North in the area of the Lakewood/Howell border between 1-10 p.m. on Wednesday.

On Thursday, heavy traffic delays and street closures are also expected throughout the downtown area from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Road closures are also expected in the area of New Hampshire Avenue, Route 70 and Massachusetts Avenue between 2-4 p.m.

In addition, according to the statement, Lakewood Court sessions are canceled for Thursday. Any persons who have a scheduled court date for Thursday will be contacted by the court for a new date.

SOURCE: Bob Considine–The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)

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