Newark man indicted for shooting of off-duty police officer outside Elizabeth nightclub

A Union County grand jury has returned a seven-count indictment against a Newark man who opened fire on an off-duty police officer during a robbery outside an Elizabeth nightclub last year, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.

Taquan Ward, 21, is charged with first-degree attempted murder, three counts of first-degree armed robbery, two weapons offenses, and third-degree witness tampering.

It was approximately 1:45 a.m. on December 2, 2013 when the shooting victim, an off-duty officer with the South Plainfield Police Department, was leaving the Jersey Girls nightclub on Bayway in Elizabeth with two friends, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor John Esmerado, who is prosecuting the case. Ward allegedly approached the group and attempted to rob the men at gunpoint, and when the off-duty officer identified himself as a police officer, Ward started shooting, Esmerado said.

A brief but intense exchange of gunfire between the officer and Ward ensued. The officer was shot multiple times and rushed to a local hospital for treatment, and a nearly three-week investigation by the Elizabeth Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Office followed, through which Ward was identified as a suspect, located, and arrested in Newark.

Each of the first-degree charges filed against Ward carries a potential penalty of 10 to 20 years in state prison.

A second suspect who also is believed to have fired a gun in the direction of the off-duty officer on the night of this incident remains at large. Anyone with information about this matter is being urged to contact Union County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Rudy Correia at 908-527-4605.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.