James P. McKeown
Sergeant,United States Army
Bob Rice found himself on the other side of critical incident counseling Sunday after hearing a fellow "brother" took his own life.
Rice, a Delaware River Port Authority police officer and New Jersey Critical Incident Stress Management Team member, said he was shocked to learn James P. McKeown, 60, a 16-year Camden County sheriff's officer, died following a self-inflicted gunshot to the stomach.
"He was just a real nice guy," Rice, of Oaklyn, said of the man he knew as "Mack." "He always had a big smile on his face."
One of more than 150 emergency response worked-turned volunteer peer counselors, Rice said he's ready and willing to offer an ear to those affected by McKeown's death.
"It actually gives it more of a personal feeling for me to work with the situation," Rice said. "After a while thinking about it, thinking, 'Wow this was another cop, this was a cop that killed himself.' You're going to feel something."
McKeown, of Stratford, died Sunday morning at the Cooper Medical Center in Camden after firing a single gunshot into his stomach late Saturday night while police questioned him on the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Select in Bridgeport. Authorities initially responded for an altercation between McKeown and a female individual inside.
Authorities are still investigating the incident.
"We're never going to find out (why) to be quite honest with you," Captain James Schmidt of Logan Township Police Department, said. "You're not going to find out what made him go to that level."
Camden County Sheriff Michael W. McLaughlin, said McKeown was an instructor at the Camden County Police Academy at Camden County College for almost seven years.
"There are quite a number of police and sheriff's officers currently serving in local communities throughout the area as well as this department that received a significant portion of their training from officer McKeown," McLaughlin said in a prepared statement.
Prior to working in the sheriff's office, McKeown served in the U.S. Army for 21 years finishing with the rank of Sergeant First Class.
He served 312 tours of duty in Vietnam, where he received his aviation crewman wings as a door gunner on a helicopter crew. He also served as a drill sergeant and instructor.
McKeown is survived by two daughters, Kristen and Kelli, both of Voorhees, along with a brother, John, and a sister, Patricia Mingin, both of Stratford. He also had three grandchildren.
A viewing at Zale's Funeral Home in Stratford
is slated for Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11 a.m. Internment will be at Arlington
National Cemetery in Virginia.
James P. McKeown, 60, of Stratford, died from a self-inflicted stomach wound at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, police said.
McKeown, a sheriff's deputy for more than 16 years, got into an argument with a female about 11 p.m. Saturday at the Holiday Inn Select Bridgeport on Center Square Road in the Bridgeport section of the township, police said.
Officers responding to the disturbance call found McKeown in the hotel parking lot.
As they started to speak with him, McKeown pulled a handgun from his waistband and shot himself once in the stomach, police said.
Officers rushed to his attention and provided medical care until the LoganTownship EMS arrived, police said.
A South Star helicopter airlifted McKeown to
Cooper, where he died at 7:38 a.m. Sunday. No other details about the incident
were available Sunday.
McKeown was in the news almost exactly one year ago.
He was working as a guard in Camden County
Superior Court when he was knocked to the floor and kicked repeatedly by
a defendant as he and other officers tried to handcuff him on February
Posted: 2 August 2004 Updated: 22 August 2004 Updated: 17 January 2008