PEMBERTON, N.J. (CBS) — A 41-year-old man has died in an officer-involved shooting in Pemberton, officials say. The incident happened just after 9 p.m. on the 100 block of Kinsley Road on Friday.
Officials say Pemberton Township Police Department officers responded to reports of an altercation and a man armed with a large curved blade when an officer shot 41-year-old Witney Rivera.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Shooting Response Task Force will conduct an investigation into the shooting. That is standard procedure when there’s a fatal officer-involved shooting.
Authorities say Rivera approached officers with a weapon that was used for gardening.
As the investigation continues, loved ones held a vigil at the spot where Rivera was killed.
Rivera was shot and killed across the street from his home in the Sunbury Village neighborhood at the hands of a Pemberton Township police officer, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.
“It’s very mind boggling. It’s still not setting in that it really happened,” Mari Elle Mangual, Rivera’s niece, said.
Investigators have not yet said specifically why police shot Rivera.
Witnesses say the shooting involving Rivera all started after he got into an argument with his ex-wife, which quickly involved other people.
“He got upset because he kept telling her to get out of here because they’re not even together,” Johanna Roman, a neighbor, said. When he told that to her, she came toward him. I guess he got upset — they’re having an argument.
“Next thing I know, he came and grabbed something because he felt somebody was going to jump him, I guess. He don’t even get to there when the cops [started] shooting him. He was laying there, he was already down. They kept shooting him.”
Officials say Rivera was holding a long scythe — a gardening tool — when police arrived.
Rivera was transported by authorities to Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly, where he later died just before 10 p.m.
He leaves behind a wife and two teenage stepchildren.
Neighbors say Rivera moved to Pemberton from Puerto Rico nearly 20 years ago.
Through tears and long hugs, loved ones reminisced Saturday of the good times.
“My uncle was a great man, loving, very caring,” Mangual said. “Did anything for anybody. Goof ball. Even with the pacemaker that took him out twice, he was still good and everything. He was just helpful. A guy you could go to for anyone, anything you needed, you could come to him.”
Police still are not releasing much information.
CBS3’s Chantee Lans, Crystal Cranmore and Howard Monroe contributed to this report.