FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey police officer accused of chasing and fatally shooting his ex-wife as their young daughter watched will remain jailed on $2 million cash bond, a judge ruled Wednesday in refusing to lower the bail.
Neptune Township Sgt. Phillip Seidle's lawyer sought to have his bail reduced at an initial court appearance. The lawyer said his recently divorced client has no prior criminal record and "no official" domestic violence record.
In denying the request, the judge ordered the 51-year-old sergeant to have no contact with his nine children or his former wife's family. Three members of Seidle's family attended the brief hearing; they declined comment afterward.
Seidle is charged with murder, child endangerment and a weapons offense stemming from Tuesday's shooting in Asbury Park. If convicted of murder, he could face a life sentence.
Seidle was off-duty when he fired several shots into a car driven by 51-year-old Tamara Seidle, and then put the gun to his head and started pacing as authorities got the couple's daughter out of his car, prosecutors said. Phillip Seidle then fired several more shots through the front windshield of his wife's vehicle, prosecutors said.
He held the gun to his head and kept police at bay for nearly 30 minutes before he surrendered, prosecutors said.
Tamara Seidle was taken to a hospital, where she died a short time later. No other injuries were reported in the shooting.
Seidle has served on the Neptune force for 22 years. The couple's divorce was finalized late last month, and authorities said the shooting apparently was spurred by an ongoing child custody dispute. Their children range in age from 7 to 24.
In her divorce complaint, Tamara Seidle claimed her husband physically abused her. She said there was no documentation of the incidents but that there was "police intervention."
Police officers in the neighborhood for an unrelated traffic accident saw the shooting unfold. When asked why the officers did not try to stop Seidle, prosecutors said that was under investigation.
Michael Terrell, who witnessed the shooting, told the Asbury Park Press that Seidle was yelling at his ex-wife about their child custody fights.
"The guy was in the middle of the street," Terrell told the newspaper. "He was saying, 'I'm tired of going to court.'"
Seidle then raised his gun, firing multiple shots at the woman, Terrell said.
"It was shocking," Terrell said.