Finding Out What Happened and How in the Lakewood Shootout


police-lakewoodWhen authorities headed into a Mackenzie Court home early Thursday morning they brought a battering ram and guns. A day later, after four officers were wounded in a shootout, investigators returned to the scene with lasers and other tools of forensic science.

Over the course of several hours Friday morning, Ocean County investigators attempted to reconstruct the shootout that unfolded between police and Jamie Gonzalez, the subject of a gun and drug trafficking investigation.

In detailing their findings, investigators are preparing a case not only for the criminal prosecution of Gonzalez, 39, who has been charged with four counts of attempted murder, but also for the defense of the officers who used their weapons. Findings of the ballistics investigation will be forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office, which reviews all cases that involve the discharge of police firearms.

Using laser technology to track the trajectory of bullets, investigators from the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department attempted to account for each shot fired by Gonzalez and members of a multi-agency task force that executed the warrant.

“You look for expended cartridges all over the house and any projectiles that might be lodged in the framework or any structures of the house,” said Deputy Chief Michael Mohel of the county prosecutor’s office.

Investigators will also try to pin down the location of the shooter, Mohel said.

That can be accomplished by comparing the trajectory of bullet with the location of spent casings, said James M. Gannalo, a former New York City Police detective who now heads a criminal forensics consulting firm in Brooklyn.

“Typically, the shells are going to be to the right and rear of where the person with the weapon was,” Gannalo said.

Much of the investigation can be completed by local agencies, Mohel said, but some aspects of reconstruction – including DNA analysis – may be outsourced to the State Police forensics laboratory in Mercer County’s Hamilton Township.

{APP/ Newscenter}