A township man was fatally shot by police inside the Lyndhurst Public Library last Friday. Police Chief James O’Connor described the victim, Kevin Allen, 36, last known to be living on Stuyvesant Ave., as someone wanted by police outside Lyndhurst.
O’Connor said that two officers whom he did not name approached Allen outside the library at about 1:30 p.m. and followed him into the building where they began speaking to him. They had no warrant for him, the chief said.
One published report quoted Bergen County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Anthony Cureton as saying that Allen was wanted by that agency as being AWOL from a work release program and for contempt of court.
The officers and Allen ended up on the library’s top floor outside what the chief described as the reading room when Allen reportedly “became violent and attempted to flee,” O’Connor said.
In response, O’Connor said, the officers “used pepper stray on him and a police baton” but Allen “continued his aggressive behavior and came at the officers with a large utility knife.”
Allen was then shot by police, O’Connor said. He declined to provide details about the shooting because an investigation of the incident is still in progress. Neither officer was hurt, he said.
“[Allen] left these men no option because he used deadly force,” O’Connor said. Allen was taken to Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, Secaucus, where he was pronounced dead.
O’Connor said the two officers were transported to Hackensack University Medical Center for evaluation for possible trauma.
As is customary in such incidents, the chief said that both officers were placed on administrative leave pending conclusion of an active investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“Approximately 10 to 12 people” – a combination of staff and patrons – were in the library at the time of the shooting, O’Connor said. Asked how many actually witnessed the incident, the chief said that, “some of those persons have given statements” to police investigators.
With Lyndhurst High School located only two blocks from the library, O’Connor and Lyndhurst Board of Education President Christopher Musto said that police and school authorities conferred about the possibility of implementing a school lockdown but decided against that.
“There was no threat beyond what had occurred on the third floor of the library,” O’Connor said. “The suspect was contained – it wasn’t an incident involving multiple suspects where someone had fled or a search was being conducted,” he added.
So, on that basis, the decision was made not to impose that type of security restriction, he said.
However, as the incident unfolded, police cordoned off the area outside the library and detoured traffic from the Valley Brook Ave. exit on Rt. 17 as a precaution.
The library itself was closed as police investigators descended on the scene and remained shut Saturday and Sunday.