US cop found dead after killing spree

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The Independent US

A heavily armed police officer was found dead in his car yesterday from an apparently self-inflicted wound after he allegedly went on an overnight shooting rampage through his suburban New Jersey community, killing five neighbours and wounding his police chief.

No motive was given for the killing spree. For the people of Dover Township, however, the news of the deaths was doubly shocking – they came just two months after a retired police officer killed four people in the town, including his granddaughter.

"It's just a sad time for the community,'' the Dover Township police chief Michael Mastronardy said.

Others in the town spoke of the killer, named as Edward Lutes, a 15-year-veteran of the police department, as someone who was friendly and always ready with a greeting.

Mr Lutes was found in his car in a driveway in nearby Barnegat Township, with a high-velocity rifle lying at his side on the passenger seat.

His victims had lived in a house immediately next to his own and in a second house across the street. He drove to the next town to open fire on his police chief, who was recovering in hospital from a gunshot wound yesterday.

"He's a very close friend of mine," Chief Costello said from his room at Jersey Shore Medical Centre in Neptune. According to neighbours, Mr Lutes had a daughter and two stepsons.

It was only in February that the town, which is about 30 minutes south of New York by car, suffered the last rampage. A retired Newark police officer, John Mabie, allegedly killed four people, including his own granddaughter. Mr Mabie faces prosecution on four counts of murder.

A local newspaper, the Ashbury Park Press, reported that Mr Lutes had an ongoing dispute with a neighbour over one of the officer's family members. It was not known whether that neighbour was among the dead. The newspaper also said Lutes lived in Dover Township with his girlfriend, his daughter and his girlfriend's daughter.

"It is Mr. Lutes in the vehicle. It appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound" the Ocean County prosecutor Greg Sackowicz told a news conference near the site of the rampage.