On Feb. 8, Russell D. Heller, a Republican member of the Milford Borough Council, was shot and killed outside his car in the parking lot of the PSE&G facility where he worked just one week after Republican councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour was killed under similar circumstances.
Authorities are saying that the two slayings are not connected and that the motivation behind Heller’s killing was not connected to his political position. Police told My Central Jersey, “The investigation has revealed that the shooting of Mr. Heller was not politically connected with his elected office or political affiliation.”
While Dwumfour’s killer remains at large, Heller’s shooter has been identified. According to the Franklin Township Police Department, Gary Curtis (58) was the shooter.
Unverified reports claim that he was a former employee of PSE&G, leading some to speculate that Heller’s killing may have been motivated by an employment dispute.
Authorities say that Curtis died of a self-inflicted gunshot just hours after he shot Heller following a short police pursuit. Little is publicly known about the gunman.
In a press release authorities said, “Mr. Curtis was in possession of a firearm. Medical personnel were requested to the scene and Mr. Curtis was pronounced deceased. The investigation remains on-going to determine motive. Preliminary investigation has revealed that the shooting was an isolated incident and Mr. Heller was the intended target.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-NJ), the representative for the district where the shooting took place said he was “shocked and saddened by the tragic murder,” the NY Post Reported.
“Russell was an outstanding public servant who proudly represented the river town he loved,” Kean tweeted following the news of Heller’s death.
Milford Mayor, Henri Schepens, told NJ.com that Heller was “so full of life” and that it was “unbelievable that he’s gone,” adding that, “Something like this has never happened in borough history. We are very shaken by this.”
Heller had served as a councilman in Milford since 2020.
Zachary Rich, the director of the county board of commissioners expressed the “collective shock and grief felt” over Heller’s “senseless shooting death.”
“Russell was a dedicated and valuable member of the Milford and Hunterdon County community whose leadership and commitment will be sorely missed,” Rick wrote according to the NY Post.
Meanwhile, PSE&G has issued a statement concerning Heller’s slaying.
“We are heartbroken at the tragic death of Russell Heller, senior distribution supervisor at PSE&G. Russell was an admired employee and a supervisor with over 11 years of service with PSE&G,” the company wrote, adding that, “He will be sorely missed by all, and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”
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Dwumfour’s killer still at large
Heller’s shooting follows the murder of another Republican politician, Councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour, whose killer remains at large.
On Feb. 1, Dwumfour was gunned down while driving her SUV near her home in Sayreville, New Jersey, sparking an investigation by the Sayreville police, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
Dwumfour, who was just 30-years-of-age at the time of her death, was recently married and a mother to an 11-year-old daughter.
An eye witness saw Dwumfour’s SUV crash into two parked vehicles following gunshots.
The witness told the NY Post that “it took a second before I realized there was a dead body behind the wheel. There was one bullet hole in the passenger door and a bunch of bullet holes in the driver door. Some other neighbors said they saw someone running away with a mask on.”
On Feb. 7, a full week after her murder, Dwumfour’s father, Prince Dwumfour, said authorities have failed to update him on the progress of the investigation into his daughter’s slaying.
When asked if the police had updated him on the case he said, “So far, we haven’t heard anything yet,” the NY Post reported.
The prosecutor’s office told the NY Post that “currently still no updates to report” because “the matter is still under investigation.”
To date, authorities have not publicly speculated on the motive behind her killing however during a radio appearance on WNYC on Feb. 2, Gov. Phil Murphy said Dwumfour’s killing doesn’t appear to be politically motivated.
The Sayreville Police Department is asking residents to turn over any security footage they may have of the area where Dwumfour was attacked between the hours of 6:30 and 8 p.m. on Feb. 1.
Investigators have said that video exists of an unknown person speaking with Dwumfour moments before her death.
A memorial was held on Feb. 8 at Epic Church International on Main Street Ext. in Sayreville, when flags were flown at half staff and the community gathered to mourn the senseless loss of an important community member.