Millville police Officer Christopher Reeves was on duty when the crash occurred around 2:15 a.m., Cumberland County prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said. She declined to comment further on the crash and wouldn't say whether Reeves was responding to a call.
However, Jim Ryan, a spokesman for the State Policemen's Benevolent Association, said Reeves' patrol car was struck by a driver who was fleeing police. Ryan said another officer in the car with the 40-year-old Reeves was critically injured in the accident, but further details weren't immediately available.
State PBA President Anthony Wieners asked that residents keep Reeves' family, his partner and the police department in their prayers.
"Chris was a member of his community who always gave back, whether it be as a volunteer fireman or a police officer. His loss is felt by all of us," Wieners said.
Webb-McRae said the prosecutor's office and state police are investigating.
Witnesses say police were chasing a black SUV down 3rd Street. They say the police cruiser was hit broadside on the driver's side when it came out of Broad Street trying to cut off the SUV.
Officer Christopher Reeves was killed instantly.
"All of a sudden I heard a boom like lightning," said Rebecca. "I just knew somebody died."
A witness captured much of the incident on video, including the driver of the SUV being wheeled into an ambulance. He says other officers pummeled the suspect.
"The cop that was chasing, he broke the window, he sliced his arm up, and he started beating up the kid that was in the car," said Marc Yatzowitz.
Reeves was a 1991 Millville Senior High School graduate who served in the Marine Corps before joining the Millville force eight years ago. He also had served with the Millville Fire Department.
Reeves' survivors include his wife, Susan, who also is a Millville police officer, and their 2-year-old son, Alexander.
The PBA set up a fund for Reeves' son. Donations can be sent to Officer Christopher Reeves Fund at P.O. Box 1142, Millville, NJ 08332.