New Jersey police officer found dead after allegedly killing five neighbors, wounding boss

Wednesday, April 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ A police officer wanted in a shooting rampage that killed five people was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Wednesday about 15 miles away, authorities said.

Edward Lutes, a Seaside Heights police officer for 15 years, was found dead in his car in Barnegat Township, Dover Township Deputy Chief Vincent Pedalino said.

Lutes was wanted for a shooting late Tuesday night in Dover Township, a New Jersey shore community that is still reeling from a February rampage in which a retired police officer allegedly killed four people, including his granddaughter.

Police said Lutes shot five of his neighbors, including two people who lived next door to Lutes and three who were in a house across the street. Lutes later went to nearby Barnegat Township and shot Seaside Heights Police Chief James Costello, police said.

Costello was in satisfactory condition Wednesday at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune.

Another person was injured and taken to Community Medical Center in Toms River. It was not immediately known where the victim was at the time of the shooting or how they were injured.

Authorities did not say what they though was the motive for the shootings.

The first shootings happened about a mile from the street where John E. Mabie allegedly killed his granddaughter and three neighbors on Feb. 21 as he went from house to house shooting a .38-caliber revolver.

``It's just a sad time for the community,'' Dover Township Police Chief Michael Mastronardy said.

Steve Rizzolo said Wednesday he moved into the neighborhood 10 years ago, about the same time that Lutes did.

``He used to walk his dog down the street, and he'd say hello. He wouldn't go by without saying hello,'' said Rizzolo, who described Lutes as a ``real neighborhood guy.''

Several parents, including neighbor Karen Picht, waited with their children at school bus stops in the neighborhood Wednesday morning. Picht, whose 12-year-old daughter sometimes played with Lutes' daughter, said she normally wouldn't accompany her daughter in the mornings but she was concerned since the two neighborhood shootings.

``To do something like that, they snap,'' Picht said.

In another multiple shooting this year in the state, six people were shot to death Feb. 4-5 in two towns near Camden. Four were killed at one home and two were killed the next day in an apartment complex. A 16-year-old boy, the nephew of one of the victims, was arrested.