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Accused shooter of undercover Paramus officer in Garfield moved to Bergen County Jail

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The Paterson man accused of shooting a Paramus police officer during an undercover operation in Garfield was moved from a hospital to the Bergen County Jail yesterday.

Rafael Vasquez — also known as “King Lucifer” — was being held on $2 million bail, charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery, violating parole and weapons offenses, including being an ex-con possessing a firearm.

A first appearance was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday in Hackensack.

As CLIFFVIEW PILOT reported Wednesday, Vasquez plea-bargained his way out of a pair of attempted murder charges to lesser counts in Passaic County.

As a result, he spent only three months behind bars before being released last Nov. 20, despite a history of violent crime, records show.

A Passaic County grand jury indicted Vasquez, 25, on attempted murder in January 2011. That was merged with a second attempted murder charge a week later — which boosted his bail to $1 million from $350,000, records show.

The 5-foot-5-inch, 140-pound Vasquez — also known as Rafael Vasquez-Pina and Gustavo Canga — pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in exchange for a three-year term. But records show he was soon back on the street, having received credit for time spent behind bars.

Records show the New York City-born ex-con already had a lengthy record before the more serious charges.

These include:

• obstruction and resisting arrest — to which Vasquez pleaded and for which he was sentenced to 364 days in jail in — September 2010;

• charged with robbery brought Vasquez parole in 2009 after a year in prison — again, thanks to credit for time served;

• pleas in 2007 to joy riding and criminal trespassing.

Vasquez was hit in the arm and leg by shots fired by backup officers Tuesday afternoon after he shot the Paramus detective twice in the Walmart parking complex outside the Marshals store off Passaic Street, authorities said. He’d been  in police custody at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson while being treated for his injuries before being transferred to the jail yesterday afternoon.

The officer, who was on loan to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Narcotic Task Force, was doing fine after undergoing surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center, authorities said. He was struck in the right hip and left lower leg.

Two other men who authorities said were involved in the shooting were brought before a judge in Hackensack on Wednesday. Melvin Guzman of Garfield, 18, and 21-year-old Patrick Morel of Clifton remained held in the county jail on $750,000 bail each..

They’re charged with aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon and two weapons possession charges — one for its use against a law enforcement officer.

RELATED:

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The Paterson man charged with shooting a Paramus police officer during an undercover operation in Garfield plea-bargained his way out of a pair of attempted murder charges to lesser counts in Passaic County three years ago, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has found. READ MORE ….
UPDATE: A Paramus police officer working a Narcotic Task Force detail was ambushed and shot during a $400 marijuana sting in a Garfield department store parking lot this afternoon, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli confirmed early this evening. READ MORE ….

MUGSHOT: Courtesy BERGEN COUNTY SHERIFF

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