Last Updated on February 10, 2023
A Republican Borough councilman was fatally shot by a former colleague in New Jersey earlier this week, officials have confirmed. The killing marked the second time an elected official had been gunned down in the state in the span of a week, though authorities do not believe the two killings are related at this time.
Russell Heller, 51, was a council member in the South Jersey township of Milford, not far from border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Heller was fatally shot around 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning in the parking lot of the PSE&G Central Division headquarters building in Somerset, where he had worked as a supervisor for 11 years.
Officers responded to the scene but found that Heller had already succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel, according to the Franklin Township Police Department.
An investigation led authorities to identify 58-year-old Gary Curtis as the suspected gunman. Curtis, a former employee at PSE&G, was found dead several hours later from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, CBS News reported.
Investigators discovered Curtis’ body inside his car, which was traced to a parking lot in a neighboring township.
“The investigation remains on-going to determine motive,” wrote the Franklin Township police department in a press release. “Preliminary investigation has revealed that the shooting was an isolated incident and Mr. Heller was the intended target.”
The Somerset prosecutor’s office later released an additional statement stating that the killing was not politically motivated. “Investigators have confirmed that Mr. Heller was a Republican Councilman for Milford Borough (Hunterdon County),” the statement read, according to CBS New York. “The investigation has revealed that the shooting of Mr. Heller was not politically connected with his elected office or political affiliation.”
Heller’s death comes just one week after Eunice Dwumfour, a borough councilwoman in Sayreville, was shot and killed in a “targeted” killing outside her home. Police have yet to identify a suspect or a motive in the Dwumfour killing more than eight days into the investigation.