Trooper II Philip Joseph Lamonaco

Trooper II Philip Joseph Lamonaco

New Jersey State Police, New Jersey

End of Watch Monday, December 21, 1981

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Philip Joseph Lamonaco

Trooper Philip Lamonaco was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Knowlton Township on Interstate 80.

The incident occurred when he stopped two members of a radical environmental group known as the United Freedom Front on I-80. The suspects robbed banks to fund their radical operations, which included bombing energy sites.

Trooper Lamonaco had disarmed one suspect when the other opened fire hitting him nine times. Trooper Lamonaco managed to return fire, wounding the shooter. Trooper Lamonaco was found face down in the snow by a passing motorist and died in a hospital a short time later.

The suspect's bullet-riddled car was found six miles away, along with the blood stains of the shooter and both suspects' fingerprints. The shooter was apprehended, convicted of murder and several bombings, and sentenced to death. He died in prison in 2005. The other suspect was apprehended on April 24, 1985, in Norfolk, Virginia. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life plus 58 years for bombing convictions. He died in prison on July 31, 2019.

On July 19, 1983, Lieutenant Lester Pagano was killed in an automobile accident while investigating Trooper Lamonaco's murder. Lieutenant Pagano had finished following up on leads in reference to the case when the accident occurred.

Trooper Lamonaco was a United States Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and had served with the New Jersey State Police for 11 years. He was named Trooper of The Year in 1979. He is survived by his wife and three children. His son serves with the New Jersey State Police.

A seven-mile portion of I-80 was renamed and dedicated in Trooper Lamonaco's memory.


  • Age 32
  • Tour 11 years
  • Badge 2663
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; 9 mm
  • Offender Died in prison

traffic stop

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“We in this world today shall be remembered...We few...we happy few...We Band of Brothers...for he today, whom willingly sheds his blood with me, shall
Brother. Lest ye say it proudly, We are but warriors for the working day.” Shakespeare
I was in my second year of a full 35yr career with the Columbus Georgia PD when this incident occurred. This incident left an impression on me about officer safety during traffic stops and I learned from this event. Trooper Lamonaco was a dedicated public servant and family man, and is still missed by family and friends. Rest In Peace my Brother of Blue...I look forward to walking those streets of gold and meeting you one day soon on God’s celestial shore.


Lieutenant Mark D Starling-(Retired)
Columbus Police Dept, Columbus, Ga.

February 22, 2023

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