Officer Jonathon Wilson Recalls Lakewood Shootout


wilson-smallThe Asbury Park reports: Lakewood Patrolman Jonathon Wilson had just finished his regular shift at midnight, when the telephone call came. When his wife, Sabrina, handed him the phone – it was about 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 24 – Wilson “had a bad feeling something wasn’t right.”

As a member of the Tactical Entry Team, Wilson, 33, a six-year veteran of the Lakewood department, was needed to help serve a no-knock search warrant.

Most times when he got such a call, his “feet barely hit the ground” as he ran out the door, he said. But this night was not like that.

“It just felt different,” Sabrina Wilson, 31, said as the couple spoke about the incident Monday in their home in Manchester.

The feelings foreshadowed Jonathon Wilson being shot in the face about two hours later when, authorities said, the subject of the investigation opened fire on officers executing the search warrant.

When Jonathon Wilson reached the top of the staircase of a Colonial-style house where the search was to be conducted, there was a sudden sense of “chaos.” He realized he was falling backward a full flight of stairs and his face felt like it was burning.

wilsonAll his training kept him focused on the gun – held in a hand bent around the corner and shooting from the top of the stairs. As he fell back he kept his weapon trained toward the top of the stairs. Not realizing he was shot in the face, he returned fire, he said.

As the first person up the stairs, it was his position to protect the officers behind him.

While officers charged the stairs, other officers filed into the house.

Jonathon Wilson said as he was falling, he had “tunnel vision” as he looked up the stairs, he said. Then, the only thought on his mind “was to make it home safe to my family,” he said.

In the shoot-out Lt. Greg Meyer was wounded in the foot. The alleged shooter, Jaime Gonzalez, 39, was injured by return fire. Both were taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

Patrolman Leonard Nieves Sr. and Sgt. Louis Sasso were shot in the vest and had minor injuries. Sasso and Nieves have since resumed work.

All were members of the entry team.

“The idea is to complete the job and get home safe,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sabrina Wilson found it nearly impossible to sleep after Jonathon Wilson returned to duty that morning, as lightning and thunder pounded outside. She tossed in bed while the four Wilson children – daughter Lakeria, 12, and three sons, Jahszon, 3-months old, Jahsameer, 4 and Jonathon Jr. 7 – all slept.

About 3 a.m., the phone rang again. A police officer was calling to tell her that her husband had an accident and that he was fine but he is being taken to Jersey Shore.

The call was part of an agreement he made with his fellow officers that if something should happen to him, they tell his wife he had an accident and is OK but not to give her details over the phone.

The caller did not tell her that as police entered a home to serve a warrant that Wilson and three other officers were shot. They did not tell her that a bullet entered the bridge of her husband’s nose and exited near his left ear. They told her that her husband was alert and conscious. They did not know if he would live or die, but they did not tell her that.

Sabrina Wilson packed their four children off to her mother’s house in the middle of the night before heading to the Lakewood Police Department. An officer drove her to the trauma center.

But on Sept. 24, she knew something was wrong before he left.

The entry team was summoned after a key arrest was made by the Ocean County Prosecutors Office Special Operations Group in Seaside Heights.

The shooting took place at 1154 Mackenzie Court in Lakewood following the arrest of Carlos Javier Franco, 36, in Seaside Heights.

Gonzalez and Franco were the subjects of a gun and drug trafficking multijurisdictional investigation including federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies.

About noon on Sept. 24, Ocean County Prosecutors Marlene Lynch Ford announced that the alleged shooter was in a “superior position” firing from the top of the stairs.

Ford announced to the media that Gonzalez was charged with four counts of attempted murder involving the Lakewood patrol officers. Gonzalez was later charged drug possession of more than five ounces of cocaine and marijuana, possession of a stolen handgun and maintaining a fortified structure, authorities said.

Gonzalez, Franco and a third man, Edwin Lugo of Mackenzie Court, have been charged with drug and weapon offenses since the shoot-out. Lugo was in the house at the time but was initially charged with obstruction, then later, drug possession.

Gonzalez has been released from the hospital and is in the Ocean County Jail with Franco. Lugo was released on bail but has an outstanding arrest warrant for drug possession.

Jonathon Wilson is the youngest of 10 children – five girls, five boys – and the son of the late Rev. Henry T. Wilson of Lakewood.

He believes his father played a role in getting him safely out of that house, he said.

Jonathon and Sabrina Wilson have been married for 12 years.

Friends both on and off the force have been visiting at the Wilson house nearly non stop during his recovery. The support has been remarkable, they said.

People have sent get well greetings and gifts from all over the country, he said.

It is not likely that the vision in his left eye will return, but there is a chance, albeit very slight, he said. Beside some slight swelling around his eye, and barely detectable bullet holes on his face, it is difficult to imagine he was shot in the face less than a month ago.

He looks forward to going back to work doing what his father taught him to do.

“He taught me that if you give respect, you get respect,” Jonathon Wilson said of his father. “I can’t say enough about my father. He made me into the man I am today.”

Since the shooting, so many people have approached the officer to tell him he was an inspiration to them. “Even some of the people I locked up” have come forward and told him they respect and support him, he said.

The couple said they are forever indebted to all who have been so kind to them at this challenging time.

For‘s earlier report of the shooting, click here.

For an earlier Lakewood story involving Officer Wilson, click here.

{APP/ Newscenter/Photo: APP}


  1. Interesting, August 23,2009 this same exact officer that prevented a Hatzaloh person from giving first-aid, (which could have been pea-koach nefesh), is a month later September 24,2009 (with Rosh Hashanna in the middle) involved in a accident where he is seriously injured( in the eye ),also to a point his life was indangered. Hashems eyes always see his children.

  2. The Lakewood police daily put their lives on the line to protect the public – that’s you, my friend. This article describes an incident that illustrates that point very clearly. It could have been your house and a burglar who could have killed you or your family.

    And DeenaTova – what are you thinking? Are you happy this man was injured? Are you teaching these kinds of midos to your children? Yes, America has become a wilderness. Reb Yaakov and Reb Moshe would never have believed these posts.