He gave his life serving his community — and now Newark Det. Michael Morgan, a native son of Belleville, is being remembered as a very good man, a loving son and a dedicated cop who sought to serve and protect the most vulnerable.
On the 10th anniversary of the night Det. Morgan was gunned down on Nov. 7, 2011, by a gang member, Belleville paid tribute to him by renaming Carpenter Street as Det. Michael Morgan Jr. Way at an event attended by Mayor Michael Melham and members of the Belleville Township Council, as well as friends, family members and members of law enforcement from several surrounding towns. They joined together at the street corner to honor the man who once said he wanted to be a police officer to “make a difference.”
His mother, Phyllis, attended the ceremony, which included solemn music from the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums.
Growing up in Belleville, Det. Morgan could often be found playing sports in the township’s streets, lots and fields. He grew so strong and agile he went on to play football at New Jersey City University.
His life cut short at just 32, Det. Morgan fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a cop in 2005 when he was assigned to Newark’s Second Precinct. He served on the Auto Theft Task Force before being promoted to detective and joining the Criminal Gang Intelligence Unit in 2006.
Det. Morgan focused his energies on the Safe City Program that got guns off the street, and his work was featured on the Sundance Channel’s “Brick City,” as well as Nat Geo’s “Drugs Inc.”
Det. Morgan was shot and killed while off-duty on Nov. 7, 2011, in Paterson. He was leaving a party when a gang member tried to rob him at gunpoint. He was shot as he attempted to draw his service weapon.
“Belleville will always be proud of Michael Morgan Jr. for dedicating his life and giving his life to keep others safe,” Melham said. “This street sign will forever serve as a reminder of his courage and dedication to the people he served.”
In 2013, the man who murdered Det. Morgan — Jerome Wright — was sentenced to 39 years in state prison for the killing.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.