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Pascack Valley Daily Voice serves Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, Park Ridge, River Vale, Washington Township, Westwood & Woodcliff Lake

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DV Pilot Police & Fire

Man killed in police shooting urged son to ‘aim for the head’

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE: A photo shows the son of a man shot dead by police in Washington Township last month pointing an assault weapon, with a comment from his father urging him to “shoot laying down or in a squatting position” and “aim for the chest… unless they have thick body armor…  [T]hen you might need to aim for the head.”

William Ellis (FACEBOOK PHOTO)

Robert Ellis made the comment on his son William’s Facebook page last November.

Then, a week and a half ago, the elder Ellis summoned police to his parents’ Washington Township home on a report of a “domestic dispute.”

Two veteran officers pulled up and were walking toward the house when Ellis’s mother suddenly shouted from inside: “”Don’t come in here. He’s got a gun and he’s going to kill you.”

As they headed back toward the street, a shot rang out — smashing a patrol car window. Ellis apparently had come out the front door.


He fired a second shot,
a source with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT, and the officers retreated to either side of a house across the street, hit the ground, and began crawling on their stomachs across two nearby lawns.

“They didn’t know where he was at the time,” he said, adding that the entire incident took nearly a  half-hour. “They showed restraint. They put themselves in grave, grave danger by not shooting.”

A Washington Township officer was 50 or so feet away and a Hillsdale officer was 20 feet away when shots rang out again. Ellis fell into the bushes in front of his parents’ house.

“The rifle still had three rounds left,” the source said.

Inside the house, investigators found 27 long rifles.

Local police have been awaiting word from Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli on whether it was a “clean shooting,” although all familiar with the incident say unequivocally that it was. Because it was a police shooting, state Attorney General directives required him to investigate.

A close family friend told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that Ellis predicted earlier that he would “go out in a blaze of glory,” leading some to suspect suicide-by-cop.

Now comes the photo of his son, along with the Nov. 23 comment from Robert Ellis:

Ellis was living with is parents only because his own home — on Laurel Avenue in Ridgewood — was burned down in December after a lighted cigarette was left unattended, sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.


‘Suicide by cop’ considered in Bergen man’s death

Saturday, 12 March 2011 19:46 Jerry DeMarco

EXCLUSIVE: Law enforcement sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that Robert Ellis, killed early Saturday in a shootout with police outside his mother’s Washington Township house, was the one who called them there in the first place. “We’re thinking suicide by cop,” one disclosed. A family friend later supported that statement.

Police suspect Ellis, 48, who was classified as emotionally disturbed, may have been high on drugs when he opened fire on officers with a rifle after they responded to a fight he was having with his mother at her home, sources with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.


Dedicated to our public servants: You are all heroes

Monday, 14 March 2011 01:31 Jerry DeMarco

AN OPEN LETTER: To the officers who responded while Robert Ellis blasted away with his rifle the other night: You are all heroes. Not only to neighbors and Ellis’s parents, whom he put in grave danger. You are also heroes to family members terrorized by this heroin addict who, just a short time ago, confided that he intended to “go out in a blaze of glory.”

That’s right: Someone who knew Ellis (photo, below) told me he’d planned this all along. He just didn’t explain it. But we know now: You were only filling the pre-determined role he put you in. He even placed the call that brought you there.

As happens when you’ve been in the public eye as long as I have, I know someone close to the Ellis family. And this person says there are people right now who want you to know how grateful they are.

Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor

“Bob Ellis was as evil as they come,” she said. “The officer [who] shot him is a hero.

“Tell [the officer] that.”

It was just a short time ago, this person told me, that Ellis made his then-vague “blaze of glory” comment.


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