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Second Elected New Jersey Official Shot Dead in a Week

Police in New Jersey responded to a shooting in the parking lot of PSE&G, an energy company, and found a Republican councilman shot dead outside his car, the second elected official in the state to be slain in a week, reports the Washington Post. For over a decade, Milford Borough Councilman Russell Heller had worked at PSE&G in Franklin Township., where he was a senior distribution supervisor. Before 7 a.m. Wednesday, one of the company’s former employees approached Heller in the parking lot and shot him. Heller, 51, was pronounced dead shortly afterward. Three hours later, authorities tracked down the gunman, identified as 58-year-old Gary Curtis, dead in a parking lot in nearby Bridgewater Township with “a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Authorities are investigating what led to Heller’s killing, one that mirrored last week’s death of Eunice Dwumfour, a 30-year-old Republican member of the Sayreville Borough Council who was fatally shot inside her car. Deputy Chief Frank Roman Jr. of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office said that so far, the “investigation has revealed that the shooting of Mr. Heller was not politically connected with his elected office or political affiliation.” “This is such a crazy, dreadful, and random coincidence,” Milford Borough Mayor Henry Schepens said, “But there’s no connection with the other councilwoman, except that they both cared for their communities and were diligent public servants.” Heller’s life was marked by his “absolute love” for his hometown of fewer than 2,000 residents, Schepens said. He said that Heller, who was first elected in 2017, then reelected in 2020, was part of a “family with a long-standing tradition of public service,” as Heller’s parents both served as local elected officials.


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