David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ
David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

Residents of Sayreville and the state were struggling to come to grips with the death of a borough police detective Monday — even as his name remained officially undisclosed and his manner of death a mystery.

His identity had not been released yet by the Middlesex County Prosecutors office as of 8 p.m., but an NJ Advance Media report citing unnamed sources identified him as Detective Matt Kurtz, 34.

According to the Sayreville Police Department's Facebook page, Kurtz was transferred to the police department's investigative division as a detective just a few months ago. He'd been on the force for more than nine years.


According to the Home News Tribune, Kurtz was honored last year for helping to rescue an an 83-year-old man from a house fire. The newspaper's article states that In December 2014, Kurtz and another member of the police department entered through the rear door of the burning Main Street structure to pull Sayreville resident Max Klitzke to safety.

A male, off-duty officer's body was found in a personal vehicle in the parking lot of the former Amboy Multiplex Cinemas along Route 9, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Sayreville Chief John Zebrowski said in statements earlier in the day. He had suffered at least one gunshot wound, but no official cause of death determination has yet been released.

Authorities are asking anyone with information to contact Detective Wayne Canastra of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-3809. They have not made any statement to suggest they believe there is a further threat to the community.

As word spread of the tragedy, many local residents expressed shock.

“It’s sad. It really is,.I hope it’s not somebody I know because I’m pretty familiar with a lot of 'em in this town because they’re all pretty good guys,” one man in town said, shaking his head.

Another person heading into a local Wawa said “I’m very upset, my brother was a police officer for New York City until he retired, and my heart goes out for these guys, they put their life on the line everyday for us.”

Bill from Sayreville said “it’s unfortunate. I mean most of the cops, they do seem like they thoroughly do care about the community. They care about the people. I mea,  they’ve gone out of their way to help me a few times, so it is upsetting.”

Another man was equally upset.

“It is really sad to hear a protector of the law dies and gets shot, it’s a real tragedy,” he said.

Baldwin said “I don’t want to hear it, that’s my reaction. I just, I don’t like it, no not at all. Honestly I think it’s tragic because life is valuable.”

A woman with two young boys said, “that is sad, it’s sad losing a life. It’s just like, he doesn’t come home one day.”

Numerous calls to the prosecutor's office were not answered.

—Toniann Antonelli contributed to this report