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Gunman, 22, in Hackensack police shooting has criminal record

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Four Hackensack police officers were involved in a shootout overnight with a suspect who was struck by gunfire and remains in critical condition this morning at Hackensack University Medical Center.

The officers got a report of a man with a gun around 1 a.m. today two blocks from HUMC, Hackensack Police Director Michael Mordaga told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

  • YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Hackensack police officer “is lucky to be alive” after a bullet fired by an armed man being chased overnight shattered the windshield of his squad car and whizzed by his head, city Police Director Michael Mordaga told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this afternoon. READ MORE ….

Two police cars pulled up, each with one officer behind the wheel, near the intersection of Newman and Russell Place, he took off west toward First Street, Mordaga said.

Robert Leonardis, who was known to police, then turned and began firing, hitting the hood and windshield of the first vehicle, the director said.

Shattered glass hit one of the officers in the face, narrowly missing his eye, he said.

“The side of his face went numb. He thought he was hit,” Mordaga told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

A second police cruiser rammed into the back of the first, but the officers weren’t injured, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said this morning.

The officers both got out of their cars and returned fire, he said.

“Shots were fired as Leonardis continued on foot west on Russell Place, and then south on First Street,” Molinelli said. “Two additional Hackensack Police Department officers joined on First Street.  All four officers fired at the suspect, who was struck numerous times.”

Leonardis, 22, fell at the corner of First and Sussex streets, the prosecutor said.

A .45-caliber handgun that police said he used was found nearby.

The officers “were pretty shaken up,” Mordaga said. All four were checked out at HUMC and released, he said.

“They did an excellent job. They did everything they were supposed to do,” Mordaga said. “I’m just glad that they’re OK.”

Attempted murder charges were being prepared against Leonardis, who was out on bail after being indicted by a Bergen County grand jury on attempted murder charges  in March after police said he stabbed a Ridgefield man who broke into his home carrying a tire iron last year in a fight over the intruder’s wife.

Authorities said Marcel Alcala forced his way into Leonardis’s apartment brandishing the tire iron on April 28, 2012 and was disarmed by Leonardis’s brother — after which Robert Leonardis then “stabbed [Alcala] in the abdominal area,” a law enforcement source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

Hackensack police dispatched to the Shafer Place building — on the fourth floor of a five-story building — said they found Alcala bleeding from at least three stab wounds. He was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery.

Also last year, Leonardis was convicted of assault and weapons possession from an incident weeks before the stabbing, records show.

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