Atlantic City cop shot in head ID’d, recovering after ‘horrific act,’ family says
ATLANTIC CITY —The city police officer who was shot in the head outside a casino Saturday has been identified and continues to recover, his family said in a statement Monday.
Atlantic City Police Officer Joshlee Vadell, 29, a nine-year veteran of the department, remains in AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center where he underwent surgery after being admitted. His condition has been upgrades to "critical, but stable," police said.
Vadell was shot when he and his partner interrupted an armed robbery in progress outside Ceasars Casino at 2:34 a.m., Atlantic City Police said.
Following a manhunt and the release of a surveillance video showing the individuals they believed were involved, two Cumberland County men were arrested later Saturday. Martell Chisholm, 19, of Millville, and Demetrius Cross, 28, of Bridgeton face charges of first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery and second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose. They face up to 20 years in prison on the attempted murder charges if convicted, police said.
During the incidents, of one of the suspects, identified as Jerome Damon, 25, of Camden was fatally shot. Atlantic County Acting Prosecutor Diane Ruberton said Officer Vadell and his partner exited their vehicle and began to approach a large group of men after allegedly seeing them “engaged in criminal activity.” On Saturday, the prosecutor explained that what the officers observed was a robbery in progress, with three men allegedly robbing the other three.
When the gunfire erupted all six men fled in separate directions. Police returned fire and struck Damon. His body was found dead more than a block away, the prosecutor said. All of the men in the video were identified and authorities say the robbery victims gave statements to police and were released from custody.
On Monday, Vadell's wife, Laura, and their family released a statement thanking those who have helped the family since the shooting, including his partner and the responders to rushed him to the hospital.
The following is Laura Vadell's statement:
"I wanted to take an opportunity to thank everyone who played a role in helping us through this extremely difficult time. The individuals who have donated their time and resources to the comfort of our family as well as the capture of those responsible for this horrific crime are too numerous to name. Still, on behalf of my family, I do wish to acknowledge many of those who have helped.
I want to thank the officer who was partnered with Josh. Without him, Josh may not have made it and those responsible may never have been brought to justice. Also to the officers working that morning that got Josh to the hospital extremely fast so his medical treatment could begin immediately.
I would like to thank the surgeons, doctors, nurses and staff of AtlantiCare who acted quickly to give Josh the best possible chance at surviving this horrific act.
I would like to thank all the local businesses, who have contributed food to my family and to all the members of the law enforcement community who have been by my side ever since Josh was admitted to the hospital.
Finally, I want to thank the entire law enforcement community who joined together to quickly apprehend the suspects believed to be responsible for this shooting. Not only did your efforts help bring these people to justice, but they also potentially helped prevent any further acts of violence these individuals could commit.
I appreciate the thoughts, prayers and support of everyone in the community as we navigate this challenging next chapter of our lives while making sure Josh recovers. At this time, we would thank you for the continued respect of our privacy."
Atlantic City police also expressed gratitude to local merchants and well-wishers who have offered support since Saturday. In addition Matt Rogers, presidents of PBA Local 24, issued a statement thanking the community and announcing that a GoFundMe page has been established to help Vadell's family.
"As our collective thoughts and strength continue to pull for our wounded Officer we wanted to take a moment to sincerely thank the community, local businesses, elected officials and law enforcement partners who have been so supportive in this challenging time. To say we are forever grateful is an understatement," Rogers said. "I cannot begin to detail how unbelievable you all have been. We are as strong as we are through this because of you all. It is my hope that when we make it through this I can thank you each personally."
The GoFundMe page has already raised more than $20,700 of the $50,000 goal.
Sergio Bichao and Dan Alexander contributed to this report.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.