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Police Director Praises Hackensack Officers

Robert Leonardis

Hackensack Police Director Michael Mordaga commended the work of Sgt. James Dalton and Police Officers Joseph Ayoubi, Franklin Bay and Brett McCarthy who were involved in a shooting incident with an armed suspect this morning on Hackensack Housing Authority property.

“They did a fantastic job and exactly what they were trained to do,” Mordaga said. “This is an example of the professionalism in our department and contributed to the positive outcome that resulted.”

At approximately 1 a.m. July 22, Hackensack police received a call about an armed man near the public housing complex on Railroad Avenue and Newman Street. When police arrived, the suspect was walking in between the buildings. When he noticed police, he attempted to flee by foot and opened fire on two officers, Mordaga said.

“One of the bullets hit the front of a police car and another went through the windshield, which almost struck an officer,” Mordaga explained. “Officer Ayoubi thought he was hit in the face,” Mordaga said. “It was the glass of the windshield that hit him. It was so close. He is very lucky.”

Ayoubi and McCarthy, who was in a separate patrol car, returned fire, striking the suspect several times.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office reported that a .45 caliber handgun was recovered at the scene.

The suspect has been identified as Robert Leonardis, 22, of Hackensack. He is currently at Hackensack University Medical Center, where he has undergone emergency surgery and is listed in critical condition. The four officers involved in the shooting were also taken to Hackensack University Medical Center where they were examined and released.

Mordaga said Leonardis was out on bail for an attempted murder charge after stabbing a man four times. In the last two years, Leonardis was arrested and charged with theft, drug possession and drug dealing offenses. Officers have also previously responded to a drug overdose at his home, Mordaga said.

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