Arrest made in shooting of off-duty South Plainfield police officer in Elizabeth

ELIZABETH — A Newark man has been arrested and charged with shooting an off-duty police officer during a suspected attempted robbery outside an Elizabeth nightclub earlier this month, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park announced Friday.

Taquan Ward, 21, was arrested without incident Friday morning in Newark and charged with two counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon.

At approximately 1:45 a.m. on Dec. 2, the shooting victim, a 32-year-old officer with the South Plainfield Police Department, was leaving the Jersey Girls nightclub on Bayway in Elizabeth with two friends when Ward allegedly approached the group and attempted to rob the men at gunpoint, according to the investigation.

The off-duty officer subsequently identified himself as a police officer, prompting an exchange of gunfire.

The officer was shot multiple times and rushed to a local hospital for treatment. A nearly three-week investigation followed, through which Ward was identified as a suspect, located, and arrested.

State Superior Court Judge Joseph Donohue set Ward’s bail at $700,000. Each of the first-degree charges filed against him carries a potential penalty of 10 to 20 years in state prison.

The investigation into this incident remains active, and anyone with information is being urged to contact Union County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Rudy Correia at 908-418-5800.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.