ASBURY PARK, N.J. (AP) — A recently divorced off-duty police officer chased down and fatally shot his ex-wife on Tuesday, then put the gun to his head and held police at bay before he surrendered, authorities said.
Authorities say Neptune Township police Sgt. Phil Seidle had his 7-year-old daughter in the front seat of his vehicle while he chased after a car driven by his ex-wife, Tamara, shortly before 11:30 a.m. Authorities say moments after the chase ended, he got out and fired his .40-caliber Glock service weapon several times into her vehicle.
Police officers who happened to be in the neighborhood for an unrelated traffic accident saw the shooting unfold and took the child from her father's car. The girl apparently was not injured.
Tamara Seidle, 51, was taken to a hospital, where she died a short time later. No other injuries were reported in the shooting.
After the shooting, prosecutors say, Phil Seidle pointed the gun at his head and held police at bay for about 30 minutes until they were able to persuade him to surrender. He was then taken into custody.
The couple had nine children, ranging in age from 7 to 24, and their divorce was finalized late last month. Authorities say the shooting apparently was spurred by an ongoing child custody dispute.
Monmouth County prosecutors say Phil Seidle is charged with first-degree murder.
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.
"It was shocking," Terrell said.
Seidle, 51, is a sergeant with the Neptune Township Police Department. He has served on the force for 22 years.
Township resident Dianna Harris told the newspaper that Seidle was a popular officer who cared about the community. Harris, who is president of the Neptune-based Midtown Urban Renaissance Corporation, said Seidle would often visit the nonprofit group's community garden.
"He was a well-respected cop in the area," Harris said. "Nobody knows what triggered this, and that's what makes it so sad."