A judge on Tuesday ordered one of three suspects charged with shooting two Camden County police detectives during an ambush last month held without bail pending trial.
Juan Figueroa, 20, of Camden, was brought handcuffed into court for a detention hearing before Superior Court Judge Edward McBride Jr. in Camden. He has been in custody since his Aug. 18 arrest at a hotel in Gloucester City.
Assistant County Prosecutor Victoria Shilton outlined a largely circumstantial case including nearly three dozen surveillance videos that linked him to a van involved in the shooting.
Defense attorney Robin Lord argued that there was insufficient evidence to charge Figueroa.
"Don't keep a man hostage on pure speculation and conjecture," Lord told the judge. Figueroa, wearing a dark blue prison jumpsuit, sat quietly during the hour-long hearing.
McBride said he found probable cause that Figueroa was involved in the shooting. He rejected a defense request to release him on bail, citing in part prior drug and weapons convictions and failure to appear in court for previous hearings.
Authorities say that Figueroa and two others opened fire on the detectives on Aug. 7 while the officers were in an unmarked police vehicle stopped at a traffic light in Camden. The officers were in plainclothes, working surveillance in the Bergen Square neighborhood, authorities said.
Authorities have said the three men were in a white van when they pulled behind the detectives, and that two of the men stepped out and fired 10 to 25 rounds from semiautomatic weapons in seven seconds.
A possible motive for the attack has not been disclosed.
>>READ MORE: Manhunt continues for suspects in ambush shootings
One of the detectives returned fire as the suspects fled. Both detectives were wounded and are recovering from their injuries. Their names have not been released. They remain on administrative leave pending a review of the shooting.
Two other suspects, Alexander DeJesus, 19, of Philadelphia, and Ammar Hall, 26, of Camden, were arrested in Philadelphia on Aug. 21 and are awaiting extradition. All three are charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons offenses.
In court Tuesday, Lord argued that there was no evidence linking Figueroa to the crime or the defendants. She dismissed an unnamed jail informant who identified Figueroa from a photograph taken earlier on the day of the shooting as a "professional rat" who was only interested in the reward money.
"What happened to these officers is horrible. But he didn't do it," Lord said. "They have the wrong guy."
While acknowledging that there was no video or eyewitness testimony that put Figueroa at the shooting scene, the prosecutor said Figueroa was seen in South Camden, where the van involved in the shooting, now identified as a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander, was parked shortly before the attack. Figueroa was seen again in the area when the van returned after the shooting, the prosecutor said.
"You cannot get any higher demonstration of a total lack of regard for the safety of the public," Shilton said in reference to the shooting.
The attack occurred on National Night Out and drew support from law enforcement officers from around the country. A $60,000 reward was offered in exchange for information that led to suspects' arrests.
More than three dozen Camden County officers were in the courtroom Tuesday. Rick Kunkel, president of Camden County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 218, said law enforcement wanted to show support for the two detectives.