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Woodbridge Center Shoplifter ID’d

A suspected shoplifter holding a hostage at knifepoint in the Woodbridge Center Mall  was killed by a single gunshot to the head after refusing a police officer’s commands to drop the knife, authorities said Friday in releasing new details about the shooting a day earlier.

Andres Garcia
Andres Garcia (Department Of Corrections)

According to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and Woodbridge police, Woodbridge Officer Edward Barrett Jr. shot the suspect, Andres Garcia, 45, of Paterson, only after repeatedly ordering him to drop his weapon.

Garcia was initially approached by Barrett, who was moonlighting and in uniform, and three mall security guards about 5 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of shoplifting.

Authorities said Garcia, who was wanted on a parole violation on a robbery conviction, ran toward Sears, grabbing a 62-year-old woman by the hair and pulling her inside the store. The woman’s husband unsuccessfully tried to hold onto his wife as Garcia pulled her inside, police said, pressing the knife against her throat and threatening to kill her.

When Garcia refused to drop the knife, Barrett, 32, an eight veteran of the police force assigned to the radio patrol division, shot him.

The shopper and her husband were not harmed. Police are withholding their names.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s is investigating the shooting.

The shoplifting incident is not Bartlett’s first time he has been involved in a serious incident according to the Patch of Woodbridge. A March 2008 announcement from the township credited the younger Barrett with participating in the arrest of four armed robbery suspects.

Barrett has been a member of the Woodbridge Police Department since December 2005 and is currently assigned to the radio patrol division. A department announcement of his swearing-in described him then as an Iselin resident who graduated from J.F.K. High School and his father, Edward Barrett, as a senior officer with 25 years in the department.

Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac commended Barrett, describing him to WNBC as  “very bright and very dedicated, and we’re proud of the job he did saving woman’s life.” He noted that when Officer Barrett graduated from Woodbridge Police Academy, he received an award for best marksman.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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